In the past decade, rates of tobacco use across the United States have dropped. As this decades-old trend has begun to fade, a new one has taken its place. Vaping — the maybe-less-dangerous practice of “smoking” an e-cigarette — is on the rise. But are we really healthier because of it?
The more people engaged in the vaping trend, the more researchers are able to study its long-term side effects. They’ve recently discovered one possible consequence no one really thought of — and it might make you think twice before hopping on board the bandwagon.
The dangers of ‘dripping’
The practice of dripping liquid directly onto the hot coils of an e-cigarette — called “dripping” — produces a thicker, more flavorful vapor cloud than heating the liquid as originally intended. It also poses a greater health risk to anyone who does it.
Dripping exposes e-cigarette users to higher levels of potentially harmful chemicals than slowly heating the liquid would. It’s a growing trend, and not a harmless one.
Next: Have a cough that just won’t quit? What have you been inhaling lately?
Vaping can still mess with your lungs
Cigarettes destroy your lungs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that smoking causes about 90% of COPD cases diagnosed in the United States.
Is vaping really better for your lungs than lighting a cigarette? From what we know so far — and we don’t know much, since e-cigarettes are still so new — it’s still possible to get lung diseases from vaping. “Smoker’s cough,” or chronic bronchitis, could become “vaper’s cough” in the future.
Next: Smoking can give you cancer — will vaping have the same effect?
Can e-cigarettes give you cancer?
It’s a misconception that smoking tobacco is worse for your health when considering your cancer risk specifically.
The chemicals in e-cigarette smoke — like nicotine, lead, and others — might increase humans’ risk of cancer, though researchers aren’t sure yet. It does so in mice, but those results have prompted scientists to look more closely into vaping’s possible carcinogenic effects.
Next: The good news is, vaping isn’t all bad. But there’s a catch.
Vaping is still better for you than smoking …
The biggest difference between vaping and smoking is the tobacco — or lack thereof. This substance, present in traditional cigarettes but not e-cigarette liquid, is biologically destructive. It coats the insides of your lungs and encourages cancer cell growth. You can even give yourself carbon monoxide poisoning.
E-cigarettes completely eliminate the health risks associated with burning tobacco. Unfortunately, they’re still questionable — especially when it comes to one key area of your health.
Next: Is vaping still worth the risk, despite its benefits over smoking?
… but it doubles your risk of having a heart attack
Some preliminary research might suggest that vaping regularly can significantly increase your risk of having a heart attack. Cigarette smoking triples your heart attack risk, so it’s true that vaping is slightly less dangerous — but you’re still putting your health in danger.
Your risk increases the more you vape, so if it’s a daily habit, even cutting back slightly might be a reasonable option.
Next: There’s another health risk you might not be aware of yet.
It might also poison you
Vaping doesn’t increase your risk of carbon monoxide poisoning like smoking does. However, you’re not necessarily safe from harmful toxins.
Do you know what you’re actually inhaling when you vape? Still a bunch of chemicals — possibly some extremely dangerous ones. According to Johns Hopkins researchers, some of the metals found in e-cigarette liquids, when heated to high temperatures, could become cancerous.
Next: Vaping poses a unique risk to one age group in particular.
It helps some people quit smoking, but others might start
Vaping has helped many adults stop smoking cigarettes. However, it’s also had an unexpected side effect: encouraging teens to pick up a tobacco habit instead.
Past research suggests people who start vaping in their teens are up to seven times more likely to start smoking cigarettes. Many call it a “gateway drug,” encouraging vulnerable populations to engage in seemingly less risky behaviors that are actually harmful long-term.
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