The Dangers of E-Cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes first became available in the United States in 2006. Since their release, their popularity has skyrocketed with more than 250 brands of e-cigarettes now sold. Oddly enough, there are now professional vape cloud competitions. People actually compete to blow the biggest, densest cloud. This just goes to show that e-cigs are considered safe, but especially cool, among the young generations.

Today, more high school students use e-cigarettes than regular cigarettes. High school students are also more likely to use e-cigs than adults. Unfortunately, e-cigs have proven detrimental to the brain development of young adults. Moreover, exposure to nicotine from childhood to age 25 can lead to addiction and behavioral problems. The U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, recently denounced e-cigarette use because of its possible health risks. Since Dr. Murthy’s message to teens and parents, several studies have released research proving the damaging effects e-cigs have on health. Just this year, research has discovered dangerous metals in e-cigs, as well as its desensitizing effects on teens and potential cardiac risks.

E-Cigs Contain Toxic Metals

According to a study recently published in the journal Environmental Research, e-cigs can contain high levels of toxic and potentially cancer-causing metals. The study leader, Ana Maria Rule of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, said, “We do not know if these levels are dangerous, but their presence is troubling and could mean that the metals end up in the aerosol that e-cigarette users inhale.”

During the study, the researchers analyzed the liquid of five top brands, typically associated with the first-generation e-cigarettes. In those five brands, the researchers discovered heavy metals like cadmium, chromium, lead, manganese, and nickel. When inhaled, the metals are toxic. The researchers conclude that the metals are released from the heating coil in the e-cig. If that is the case, then the liquid when heated by the coil and aerosolized may contain cancerous toxins. “Perhaps regulators might want to look into an alternative material for e-cigarette heating coils,” Rule said in a Hopkins news release. In Rule’s opinion, the FDA should regulate not only the ingredients used in e-cigarette liquid but also the quality control of the devices.

E-Cigs Desensitize Teens to the Dangers of Tobacco

Published on February 7 in the journal Tobacco Control, a new study observed that teens who “vape” are more likely to smoke a regular tobacco cigarette.

In 2014, researchers surveyed 347 teens, aged 17-18. Then in 2015, they surveyed them again. For those who had never smoked a regular cigarette, they were four times more likely to smoke if they tried an e-cig within the survey period, compared to those who didn’t try the e-cig. As for those that tried a cigarette before and have used an e-cig, their rate of tobacco use between the survey period more than doubled.

Interestingly, the study noted that e-cigarettes influenced the way teens viewed the dangers of smoking. Recent e-cigarette users were four times more likely than non-users to no longer regard smoking as a health hazard. This conclusion only further substantiates the claim that e-cigarettes are the gateway to tobacco smoking among teens. Richard Miech, who’s with the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, said, “The results support a desensitization process, whereby youth who ‘vape’ lower their perceived risk of cigarette smoking.”

E-Cigs Increase the Risk of Heart Disease

A study, recently published in the journal JAMA Cardiology, suggests that “vapors” may face an increased risk for heart disease. In the study, those who had vaped within the last year showed two early indicators of heart risk. For instance, many of the e-cig users are put at a higher risk of oxidative stress at which point the “free radicals” reach harmful levels. Researchers also noticed increased cardiac sympathetic activity in e-cig users, which ultimately leads to increased heart rate and blood pressure.

Study co-author Dr. Holly Middlekauff, a professor with the division of cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles, said that the research revealed “the same types of abnormalities in our e-cigarette users that are reported in tobacco cigarette smokers, and these abnormalities are associated with increased cardiac risk.” Further research is still needed to pinpoint the variable causes, as well as compare the cardiac effects of e-cigs versus traditional cigarette smoking. Regardless, this study shows that e-cigs are not as harmless as previously believed.

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