June 21, 2018

Dangers of Vaping

Articles by Dr. Erdman are for informational purposes, and are not to be taken as specific medical advice.

We’ve all been exposed to the e-cigarette wave sweeping the country over the last half decade. E-cigs now have a larger population using them than smokeless tobacco as of 2015.

Smokeless tobacco has been around for hundreds of years, yet only about 3.5% of Americans use it. 

E-cigs have been around about 10+ years and already about 10% of US adults and 13% of high school students use it. A National Institute of Drug Abuse survey found that 9% of 8th graders, 16% of 10th graders and 17% of seniors had used e-cigs in the last month.

Use of e-cigs by youth now tops their use of tobacco. Some may see this as a good trend, but I have a bit more skepticism. There are health risks in e-cigs and they may serve as a gateway to tobacco use. A recent study published by JAMA Pediatrics revealed that young people who use e-cigs are more likely to start using tobacco cigarettes than their peers who did not.

Unfortunately, e-cigs are widely viewed as a ‘safe’ alternative to smoking tobacco. Research is accumulating to the contrary. E-cigs contain a different set of dangers than tobacco, but are harmful nonetheless.

E-cigs are not currently regulated by the FDA, but the feds are looking into some form of oversight. E-cigs are not required to label or disclose anything on their products. Right now there are over 450 brands of e-cigs and over 7700 flavors available in America.

Smoking e-cigs, or vaping, as they say, does expose you to health risks you just don’t need. Many of the flavorings were never intended to be inhaled, yet go deep into the lungs with each breath.

One of the artificial flavorings is diacetyl, a butter flavoring used in microwave popcorn. Diacetyl or a chemically similar alternative called propionyl, was found in 74% of sweet tasting e-cigs. Of those that contained it, over half exposed the user to levels that exceed limits put in place for work environments. Research already shows diacetyl has properties that can affect brain health and may trigger Alzheimer’s disease. It has also been linked to lung damage, including permanent scarring and inflammation in the airways, in workers at a microwave popcorn plant who breathe it daily.

Other flavors than just the sweet ones have concerning compounds such as Aldehydes and cinnamaldehydes. These compounds have been shown to lead to respiratory inflammation, airway constriction and lead to death of human cells in lab tests.

Separate research has shown e-cigs emitted higher levels of certain metals including nickel, silver and zinc than tobacco cigarettes. Some of these metals are toxic even in minute amounts.

Even the FDA has recently detected the deadly antifreeze chemical diethylene glycol in the e-cig cartridges, along with nitrosamines, which are linked to cancer.

Second hand vapors from e-cigs contain carcinogens and reproductive toxins such as acetaldehyde, benzene, cadmium, formaldehyde, isoprene, lead, nicotine, toluene and others. These are obviously chemicals a health conscious person wants little part of.

Do your health a favor; don’t add to your already unavoidable toxic load by taking aerosol poisons into your body voluntarily. These things should be viewed in the same light as tobacco products, unhealthy.