Since electronic cigarettes hit the market in 2003 they have been touted by many as a ‘healthier’ options for smokers who are eager to leave the real deal behind. However, there has been little research on the rising trend – leaving some questioning the potential health risks of vaping.
And now, a new infographic created by Yahoo Health reveals what is known so far about what happens to a person’s body immediately after vaping an e-cigarette, exploring how a few puffs may affect your mouth brain, and lungs – and it’s certainly not all as ‘healthy’ as you might think.
In fact, as the infographic explains, smoking an e-cigarette can often lead to the same feeling of ‘cotton mouth’ that most smokers experience after inhaling traditional cigarettes, as well as a scratchy throat and a cough.
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Healthier option? Although there are very few studies on e-cigarettes, a new infographic explores how vaping may affect your brain, heart, lungs and mouth
And then there’s the risk e-cigarettes pose to your lungs; while the dangers might not be quite so apparent as they are when it comes to actual cigarettes, vaping can still cause some serious damage to these organs.
According to the infographic, ‘nanoparticles from e-cigarette vapor’ can become embedded in the lungs, causing inflammation and increasing the risk of further infection.
Much like the traditional option, e-cigarettes also release a feeling of pleasure as dopamine levels rise and enter the brain – but those with nicotine can also raise heart rate and blood pressure.
E-cigarettes are considered to be a healthier option for smokers because they simulate the feeling of smoking without any smoke or burning, and a new study by a UK health agency deduced that vaporizers are 95 per cent less harmful than traditional cigarettes, suggesting that they can even help people quit tobacco.
‘They’re simpler than cigarettes,’ Jonathan Foulds, a professor of public health sciences and psychiatry at Penn State University’s College of Medicine and Cancer Institute told Yahoo Health.
‘You burn it, cigarettes creates 7,000 different chemicals into your body,’ he explained. ‘But with e-cigarettes, there’s no combustion. The good news is that you’re inhaling a vapor that’s got four to five things as opposed to 7,000 things.
‘The question is: What’s the effect on the body of the four to five things?’
The small amount of research shows that electronic cigarettes may affect the user’s mouth, lungs, heart and brain.
Although it is unclear why, some users complain that after vaping they experience dry mouth, coughing and throat irritation.
As for what users are inhaling, vaping may cause inflammation on the user’s lungs. According to a study published in the journal PLOS this year, the inhalation of e-cigarette vapors damage the epithelial cells in the lungs, which leave them at risk for infection.
The study’s author, Qun Wu, told Yahoo Health earlier this year that e-cigarette liquids, whether they have nicotine or not, ‘inhibit lungs’ innate immunity’, which helps it defend itself against infections.
And while glycerin, one of the ingredients in e-cigarettes, is considered safe in foods, Mr Foulds argues that eating something is not the same as ‘putting it into a vapor and inhaling it.’
‘A Mars bar is safe to eat, but I wouldn’t want to inhale it,’ he explained. ‘If something is safe as a food, it’s not highly harmful, but we don’t know what happens when you inhale it.’
Rising trend: E-cigarettes are not currently regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration
The US Food and Drug Administration warns that e-cigarettes have not been properly studied, so it is unclear to how much nicotine or other potentially harmful chemicals are being inhaled through vaping.
Although the agency has issued a proposed rule that would extend its tobacco authority to include e-cigarettes, they are not currently regulated by the FDA.
The contents of the liquid solution found in vaporizers vary by brand and flavors, and nicotine isn’t necessarily a component of all e-cigarettes. Some versions of the produce even allow users to adjust the liquid solution to their liking.
There are hardly any studies on the effects of e-cigarettes on the body, and American Lung Association argues that early studies show that e-cigarettes contain nicotine and other harmful chemicals, including carcinogens.
Like traditional cigarettes, vaporizers that contain nicotine raise the user’s heart rate and blood pressure as an adrenaline rush overcomes the body, however, a European study found ‘none of the heart problems associated with tobacco cigarettes among e-cigarette’ users.
Vaping may also be addictive. E-cigarettes give users a feeling of pleasure as dopamine levels rise in the brain.
While nicotine is not a carcinogen, it is still addictive, and many agencies fear that e-cigarettes may actually increase the odds that vapers become addicted to other substances.
The American Lung Association voices concern that the claims that e-cigarettes help people quit smoking are unproven, and that they may actually serve as a gateway for the use of traditional tobacco products – particularly for teens. According to new data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention electronic cigarette use among teens has surpassed traditional cigarette use for the first time.
However, one thing is for sure, pregnant women should stay away from e-cigarettes, The nicotine found in vaporizers puts unborn babies at risk for preterm birth, low birth weight, higher still birth rates.
The American Lung Association stated that without FDA regulation, ‘there is no way for the public health and medical community or consumers to know what chemicals are contained in e-cigarettes or what the short and long-term health implications might be’.