Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling an aerosol produced by an electronic cigarette, vape pen, or other vaping device. These devices heat a liquid that typically contains nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals, creating a vapor that users breathe in.
Vaping has become increasingly popular in recent years, especially among young people. Many people believe that vaping is a safer alternative to smoking, as it does not involve burning tobacco and producing harmful tar and carbon monoxide.
However, vaping is not without risks. In this blog post, we will explore some of the potential health effects of vaping, based on the current scientific evidence.
Vaping can affect the heart and circulatory system in several ways. According to a 2019 review, vaping can:
Effects on the heart
- Increase heart rate and blood pressure, which can increase the risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke.
- Cause oxidative stress and inflammation in the blood vessels, which can impair their function and lead to atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries).
- Reduce the levels of nitric oxide, a molecule that helps dilate blood vessels and regulate blood flow.
- Increase the levels of adrenaline, a hormone that stimulates the fight-or-flight response and can cause arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats).
These effects are more pronounced in people who vape with nicotine, as nicotine is a stimulant that affects the nervous system and the cardiovascular system. However, even nicotine-free vaping can have some negative effects on the heart, as the aerosol contains other potentially harmful chemicals such as flavoring agents and base liquids.
Effects on the lungs
Vaping can also affect the lungs and respiratory system in several ways. According to a 2018 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), vaping can:
- Cause coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and asthma exacerbations.
- Increase the risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a group of lung diseases that cause breathing difficulties.
- Increase the risk of developing lung infections such as pneumonia and bronchitis.
- Increase the risk of developing lung cancer, especially if the vaping liquid contains carcinogens such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde.
In addition, vaping has been linked to an outbreak of lung injuries and deaths that occurred in 2019 and 2020. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified vitamin E acetate, a thickening agent used in some THC-containing vaping products, as a chemical of concern among people with e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury (EVALI). However, other chemicals or factors may also contribute to this condition.
Effects on the mouth
Vaping can also affect the mouth and oral health in several ways. According to a 2018 study, vaping can:
- Cause dry mouth, which can increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
- Alter the oral microbiome, which is the balance of bacteria and other microorganisms in the mouth. This can affect the immune system and increase inflammation.
- Damage the cells that line the mouth, which can impair their ability to heal and protect against infections.
- Increase the risk of oral cancer, especially if the vaping liquid contains carcinogens such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde.
Vaping is not a safe or harmless habit. It can have serious consequences for your heart, lungs, and mouth. It can also increase your risk of addiction if you vape with nicotine. The long-term effects of vaping are still unknown, as research is still ongoing. Therefore, it is best to avoid both vaping and smoking altogether. If you are looking for ways to quit smoking or vaping, talk to your doctor or visit https://smokefree.gov/ for more information and resources.