When e-cigarettes first came on the scene, they were touted as a “safer” way to get your nicotine fix. A low-risk form of second-hand “smoke.” And an easy route to quit smoking.
But have they lived up to the hype? Are they truly safer? And do they really cut your risk? The truth is more complex than makers would have you believe.
Here’s what you need to know about e-cigarettes.
Bad News: The Genetic Impact
Cigarette smoke can influence up to 53 defensive genes in the lining of your lungs. Doctors at the University of North Carolina (UNC) found e-cigarettes may be worse. They can influence 358 defensive genes – about 7 times more than tobacco.
The UNC team also noted the FDA has approved more than 7,000 e-cigarette flavors. But the approvals are based on oral ingestion – not inhalation. (Note: Nicotine is a poison. Vaping liquids are never safe to drink.)
Basically, this means your government watchdog has approved these chemicals cocktails based on a way they’re not normally used.
But that’s just for starters.
Exposing You to Toxins, Toxins, and More Toxins
French researchers found e-cigs expose users to proven cancer-promoting compounds like formaldehyde. They also discovered the devices grow more dangerous with use. Over time, e-cigs may expose you to 60% more dangerous chemicals than when they’re new.
In another recent study, doctors discovered fruit and other non-tobacco flavors of e-cigs are more dangerous than the tobacco flavors. But all flavors increase airway irritation and inflammation.
A second study showed heat and use boost the levels of dangerous chemicals in vapor. This includes chemicals known by the World Health Organization (WHO) to cause cancer.
Researchers also found vaping exposes users to levels of dangerous particles similar to cigarette smoke or diesel emissions.
The authors of a 2015 Pennsylvania study say e-cigs may expose users up to 1,000 times the levels of some damaging free radicals as cigarette smoke.
Effects Even Worse for the Young
A North Carolina study revealed 40% of the particles released by “vaping” could deposit themselves in the deepest recesses of young lungs. And in a teen with breathing issues – such as asthma – these particles could do damage similar to that done by tobacco.
Here’s another reason that’s so alarming…
E-cig use is already linked to a higher risk of lung problems. Young e-cig users are far more likely to suffer with asthma or bronchitis than non-users.
E-cig use among U.S. youth doubled between 2011 and 2012. And studies show young e-cig users are more likely to take up cigarettes use.
And the supposed benefits of e-cigarettes seem to be overstated.
Better Than Smoking? No Real Proof
Vaping advocates claim e-cigs expose fewer people to lower levels of toxins. This hasn’t been proven. In fact, the opposite seems more likely.
As I mentioned, e-cigs affect up to 7 times more defensive genes than cigarette smoke. And vaping exposes users to several different cancer-causing chemicals not found in cigarette smoke. So the truth may simply be that e-cigs expose you to different toxins than cigarettes do.
Yes – smoking is clearly dangerous. But vaping doesn’t have an especially safe profile, either. And we still have a lot of research to go. Plus, scientists at the University of California found vaping may lead more people to take up smoking than to quit.
In some ways, e-cigs may be somewhat “healthier” than tobacco. But they also pose new risks. If you want to quit smoking, e-cigs are probably not the way to go.
About the Author: Jason Kennedy is a celebrated investigative health writer and the author of The X-Factor Revolution and Beyond the Blue Zone. With over 10 years of experience working with today’s leading alternative and anti-aging doctors, Jason shares his insider status and access to the latest breakthroughs with thousands of readers from around world.
“E-cigarette Use Can Alter Hundreds of Genes Involved in Airway Immune Defense,” University of North Carolina Health Care. Jun 20, 2016.
Sleiman, M., et al, “Emissions from Electronic Cigarettes: Key Parameters Affecting the Release of Harmful Chemicals,” Environ. Sci. Technol. Jul 27, 2016; DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.6b01741.
Lerner, C.A., et al, “Vapors Produced by Electronic Cigarettes and E-Juices with Flavorings Induce Toxicity, Oxidative Stress, and Inflammatory Response in Lung Epithelial Cells and in Mouse Lung,” PLoS ONE. 2015; 10(2): e0116732.
“Toxins in e-cig vapor increase with heat and device use,” ACS News Service. Jul 27, 2016.
“Study shows e- cigarette vapors contain toxins and have the potential to be a public health concern,” RTI Press. Mar 12, 2015.
Gilbert, S., “Potentially dangerous molecules detected in e-cigarette aerosols,” Pennsylvania State University. Dec 2, 2015.
“Electronic cigarettes may cause, worsen respiratory diseases, among youth, study finds,” RTI International. Apr 29, 2014.
“Electronic cigarettes may cause, worsen respiratory diseases, among youth, study finds,” Environ. Sci. Technol. Apr 29, 2014; DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.6b01741.
Bunnell, R.E., et al, “Intentions to Smoke Cigarettes Among Never- Smoking US Middle and High School Electronic Cigarette Users: National Youth Tobacco Survey, 2011–2013,” Nicotine Tob Res. 2015; 17(2): 228-235.
Dutra, L.M. and Glantz, S.A., “Electronic Cigarettes and Conventional Cigarette Use Among US Adolescents – A Cross-sectional Study,” JAMA Pediatr. 2014; 168(7): 610-617.
© Copyright 2016 Discovery Health Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.