E-Cigarettes: Is Vaping a Healthier Alternative to Smoking?
Is Vaping Safe?
At Ascent Chiropractic our goal from the beginning has been to work with our patients to maximize the way their body works, and that means implementing suggestions on what to do as much as what not to do.
And when it comes to smoking, I’m not breaking any new ground when I tell my patients straight-out that smoking has no place in their lives. It’s no secret that cigarettes are bad for your health; along with breathing in burned tobacco and tar, smokers inhale toxic chemicals like cadmium and beryllium along with metals like nickel and chromium, all of which are naturally present in tobacco.
Smoking destroys your body. No other habit has been so strongly tied to death.
The ‘Healthy’ Alternative?
So it’s no surprise that most available research suggests that ‘vaping’, which lets smokers get their hit of nicotine from vaporized liquid instead of burned tobacco, is at least somewhat healthier than cigarettes. Studies also suggest that e-cigarettes and vape pens might be helpful for those trying to quit smoking, although the evidence is limited.
And partly because it’s perceived as the ‘healthier option’, the use of e-cigarettes and other alternative vaping devices has exploded over the past five years, particularly among teenagers. In fact, in a survey conducted in December 2017, almost 7% of 8th graders, 13% of 10th graders and 17% of 12th graders had reported vaping in the past month.
What The Evidence Says
Unfortunately, most of those who vape have zero knowledge of what else these devices contain and how they can affect your body and brain. But a handful of studies published over the past year are illuminating the potential health effects of e-cigs.
One of the most worrisome outcomes of that research is a study from the Society of Research on Nicotine and Tobacco that links daily vaping to a 2x risk of experiencing a heart attack compared to those who don’t vape or smoke. In comparison, those who smoked daily had a 3x increased risk, and ‘dual users’ – those who both vaped and smoked cigarettes – had a 5x increased risk.
The Same Toxic Metals From Cigarettes Also Found In E-Cigs
E-cigarette cartridges and vaping fluids contain nicotine and flavorings dissolved in propylene glycol and glycerol, but research out of John Hopkins published last month found that many of same toxic metals and metallic elements found in conventional cigarettes – lead, cadmium, manganese, nickel and even significant amounts of arsenic – are also present in e-cigarette vapor.
Repeated exposure to these metals has been tied to health problems in the lungs, liver, immune system, heart, and brain, as well as some cancers, according to the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration.
The Bottom Line
The truth is, we don’t know yet exactly what kind of long-term damage vapers are doing to their health; people just haven’t been using e-cigarettes long enough to answer that question. Studies show that if you’re going to choose one, conventional cigarettes are still significantly worse for your health, but there’s still reason to be seriously concerned that kids and adults alike are being exposed to high levels of toxic metals by vaping.
So yes, while there are benefits to switching from traditional cigarettes to an electronic version, the long-term health consequences of vaping are far from fully understood, and studies suggest the effects could range from less than safe to extremely dangerous. This much is clear: if you’re not a smoker, now’s not the time to start!