The Hidden Dangers of Vaping: Health Risks and Potential Harm

5 Health Risks of Vaping

Nicotine is addictive and can harm adolescent brain development. It affects memory, thinking, and impulse control. It can also wire the brain for future addictions, especially to other drugs.

Vaping can cause lung damage. E-cigarette vapor can contain harmful chemicals, including diacetyl and cancer-causing agents.

It can also cause EVALI, which is a lung disease that causes coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.

1. Addiction

Nicotine is addictive and can damage a person’s mental health. It can hinder adolescent brain development and harm parts of the brain that control attention, learning, mood and impulse control. It can also cause depression and anxiety. It can lead to impulsive behavior and bad relationships.

Vaping involves using a handheld tube, called an e-cigarette or e-hookah, to heat liquid chemicals (e-liquid or “e-juice”) into a vapor that you breathe in. These devices can contain flavors, such as diacetyl, which can permanently injure your lungs. And they can contain other chemicals, such as formaldehyde, acrolein, and chromium that can irritate your eyes, nose, throat, and lungs and cause lung disease over time.

The vapor can also contain heavy metals that can build up in your body and harm the heart over time. And exploding batteries can cause burns and injuries.

2. Lung Damage

Aspiration (breathing in) vaping vapor can bathe the lung tissue with a mixture of chemicals that may be toxic. These include nicotine, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), flavorings and other additives, which can coat the lungs with oil and cause damage.

Lung injury from vaping can lead to a pneumothorax, which is when air bubbles or liquid collect in the space between the lungs and the outside of the chest wall. This can be life threatening.

Nicotine disrupts brain growth, which can affect learning and concentration. It can also make a person more likely to use other tobacco products and may make asthma worse. It can also increase a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease and heart problems. Talk to young people and their families about the risks of vaping.

3. Damage to the Brain

Nicotine constricts blood vessels and lowers the amount of oxygen that reaches the brain. This can cause problems like short attention span, disorganization, and impulsivity. It can also lead to depression, anxiety and addictions.

Those who vape can also be exposed to harmful chemicals like formaldehyde and antifreeze in e-liquids. Even e-liquids that claim to be nicotine free contain small amounts of the substance. It’s important for social workers to talk about the dangers of vaping with young people and their families.

A growing body of research points to significant health risks associated with vaping, especially among adolescents and teens whose brains are still developing. It’s important for youth to know the truth about vaping and its negative effects so they can make better choices.

4. Germs

Millions of bacteria live in our mouths, where they help us fight infections and digest food. But those bacteria exist in a delicate balance. Too many can lead to gum disease, which in turn can cause teeth to fall out.

But vaping can disrupt that balance by changing the chemicals and bacteria in our bodies, says Sussan. For example, he has found that some e-cigarette liquids contain diacetyl, a chemical linked to a severe lung disorder called popcorn lung. This disorder affects the lungs’ smallest airways, known as bronchioles.

Andl has also seen more cavities in her younger patients who vape, which she believes is due to the acidity of the chemicals in e-cigarette liquid and an increase in bacteria that can cause tooth decay. She is also investigating whether a compound in e-cigarette vapor called diethylene glycol, which is used to de-freeze cars, can be ingested and spread by the lungs to damage them.

5. Cancer

Although many people think of vaping as safer than smoking tobacco, it’s not risk-free. College of Medicine researcher Claudia Andl says e-cigarettes contain 15 times the amount of formaldehyde found in traditional cigarettes, which is linked to lung disease and cancer. Her research also shows that e-cigarette chemicals create chemical reactions in the mouth, destroy good bacteria and increase germs that cause cavities, gum disease and cellular changes that lead to cancer.

The vapor also contains acrylonitrile, propylene oxide and acrolein, all known to be carcinogens. And a recent study published in Scientific Reports showed that the vapor from e-cigarettes can damage cells and change DNA. This process, called nitrosamine formation, can lead to cancer in the lungs and other organs. It can also interfere with immune-boosting white blood cell production and reduce chemotherapy effectiveness.

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