Close-Up Of Hand Holding Electronic Cigarette

Is Vaping Safe?

Is vaping safe, and what are the side effects of vaping? The medical community’s consensus is that vaping illegal products or products of unknown origins has the potential to cause damage. Side effects of vaping unregulated oils include coughing and shortness of breath. In severe cases, people may suffer from lung damage, blood clots, and even death 1, 2 Blaha, M. (n.d.). 5 Vaping Facts You Need to Know. Retrieved July 31, 2020, from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/5-truths-you-need-to-know-about-vaping .

What is Vaping?

Vaping is a drug delivery system for CBD, THC, or nicotine. An electronic device called a vape pen, or vaporizer heats an oil mixture containing the intended drug, plus flavoring and other chemicals. The oil becomes an aerosolized vapor (hence the term “vape”) to breathe into your lungs. Vaping is different from smoking because you’re not burning the tobacco or cannabis plant; you’re only heating it. You can think of it as the difference between inhaling steam from a pot of hot water versus sticking your face into a smokey woodfire.

How Bad is Vaping for You?

Just how bad is vaping for you? The National Institute of Health (NIH) 3 Varlet, V., Concha-Lozano, N., Berthet, A., Plateel, G., Favrat, B., De Cesare, M., Lauer, E., Augsburger, M., Thomas, A., & Giroud, C. (2016). Drug vaping applied to cannabis: Is “Cannavaping” a therapeutic alternative to marijuana?. Scientific reports, 6, 25599. https://doi.org/10.1038/srep25599 and the CDC 4 Electronic Cigarettes. (2020, February 24). Retrieved July 31, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/index.htm have noted that vaping is safer than smoking 5, 6 Polosa, R., Cibella, F., Caponnetto, P., Maglia, M., Prosperini, U., Russo, C., & Tashkin, D. (2017). Health impact of E-cigarettes: a prospective 3.5-year study of regular daily users who have never smoked. Scientific reports, 7(1), 13825. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-14043-2 . Most of the concerns are not with the drug in question, but with the other chemicals that are in oils. One of the most famous incidents of vaping injuries happened this past year. Young adults using black market vape oils ended up with lung damage and lung injuries, sometimes permanently. Those who suffered more severe injuries died. The culprit of these side effects of vaping was not CBD, THC, or nicotine, but Vitamin E acetate. This additive is used to thicken the oil, and at high temperatures, it can become toxic, accumulating in the lungs, and causing damage 7 Boudi, F. B., Patel, S., Boudi, A., & Chan, C. (2019). Vitamin E Acetate as a Plausible Cause of Acute Vaping-related Illness. Cureus, 11(12), e6350. https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.6350 .

Not everyone should use vaporizers. Neither the NIH nor the CDC recommends vaping for pregnant women. The Mayo Clinic notes that exposing a growing baby to cannabis compounds or nicotine is not recommended for developmental growth 8 Hays, J. T. (2019, October 12). Vaping during pregnancy: Is it safe? Retrieved July 31, 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/expert-answers/vaping-during-pregnancy/faq-20462062 . If you are pregnant, it’s also a good idea to stay away from second-hand vape smoke.

Another reason to not vape while pregnant is due to the addictive nature of certain drugs, such as nicotine 9 Benowitz N. L. (2010). Nicotine addiction. The New England journal of medicine, 362(24), 2295–2303. https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMra0809890 . This chemical binds directly to your dopamine receptors, strengthening the reward cycle. Stimulating dopamine production makes you crave more nicotine over time. Addiction is one of those vaping side effects that may also develop with THC. Unlike nicotine, it’s more of a psychological dependency than a chemical one 10 Panlilio, L. V., Goldberg, S. R., & Justinova, Z. (2015). Cannabinoid abuse and addiction: Clinical and preclinical findings. Clinical pharmacology and therapeutics, 97(6), 616–627. https://doi.org/10.1002/cpt.118 . On the other hand, CBD can help lessen the addictive effects of THC and other drugs! 11 Prud’homme, M., Cata, R., & Jutras-Aswad, D. (2015). Cannabidiol as an Intervention for Addictive Behaviors: A Systematic Review of the Evidence. Substance abuse : research and treatment, 9, 33–38. https://doi.org/10.4137/SART.S25081

How Does Vaping Affect Your Lungs?

Vaping can cause inflammation in the lungs, leading to lipoid pneumonia and sometimes, popcorn lung or bronchiolitis obliterans. With lipoid pneumonia, tiny molecules of fat accumulate in your lung tissue. The symptoms include:

  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Blood in the mucus

Popcorn lung happens when the small tubes or bronchioles that carry oxygen become inflamed due to diacetyl irritation or Vitamin E acetate buildup. These two chemicals can damage lung tissue, narrow bronchioles at high temperatures, and allow less oxygen through 13 What Does Vaping Do to Your Lungs? (n.d.). Retrieved July 31, 2020, from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/what-does-vaping-do-to-your-lungs . Symptoms include:

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Chest pains
  • Shortness of breath

Some studies have linked vaping to lung cancer since inflammation over time does increase the risk. However, in these studies mice were used as the testing model and not humans. Scientists caution people not to jump to conclusions about cancer as a side effect of vaping solely based on these results; it’s merely something to keep in mind if you decide to vape 14 Reynolds, S. (2019, November 19). E-cigarette vapor linked to cancer in mice. Retrieved July 31, 2020, from https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/e-cigarette-vapor-linked-cancer-mice .

How Does Vaping Affect Your Heart?

For people who vape tobacco products, most of the damage to the heart and blood vessels comes from the nicotine. However, there aren’t enough studies on the side effects of vaping resulting from heating flavorings, additives, CBD, and THC. A study on mice showed that short-term vaping didn’t damage the heart, but did cause heart tissue to produce more blood vessels 15 Shi, H., Fan, X., Horton, A., Haller, S. T., Kennedy, D. J., Schiefer, I. T., Dworkin, L., Cooper, C. J., & Tian, J. (2019). The Effect of Electronic-Cigarette Vaping on Cardiac Function and Angiogenesis in Mice. Scientific reports, 9(1), 4085. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-40847-5 . Another study looked at the effects of nicotine-free vapes on young college students. Researchers noted that blood flow decreased through the major arteries in the legs 16 Caporale, A., Langham, M. C., Guo, W., Johncola, A., Chatterjee, S., & Wehrli, F. W. (2019). Acute Effects of Electronic Cigarette Aerosol Inhalation on Vascular Function Detected at Quantitative MRI. Radiology, 293(1), 97-106. doi:10.1148/radiol.2019190562 .  What we can glean from these studies is that vaping has an effect on our cardiovascular system, but long-term effects are unknown.

How Does Vaping Affect Your Teeth and Gums?

Your mouth, teeth, and gums are the first place that vaping aerosols hit when you use a vaporizer. Since vape oils contain harmful chemicals (albeit at lower concentrations than smoking), your mouth’s cells become damaged over time 17 Atuegwu, N. C., Perez, M. F., Oncken, C., Thacker, S., Mead, E. L., & Mortensen, E. M. (2019). Association between Regular Electronic Nicotine Product Use and Self-reported Periodontal Disease Status: Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health Survey. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(7), 1263. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16071263 . This usually means inflammation, and it can lead to 18 Isik Andrikopoulos, G., Farsalinos, K., & Poulas, K. (2019). Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) and Their Relevance in Oral Health. Toxics, 7(4), 61. https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics7040061 :

  • Receding gums
  • Gingivitis
  • Periodontal disease

Additives, such as propylene glycol and glycerin, are sweet and can make it easier for bacteria to stick to the pits and grooves on your teeth 19 Kim, S. A., Smith, S., Beauchamp, C., Song, Y., Chiang, M., Giuseppetti, A., Frukhtbeyn, S., Shaffer, I., Wilhide, J., Routkevitch, D., Ondov, J. M., & Kim, J. J. (2018). Cariogenic potential of sweet flavors in electronic-cigarette liquids. PloS one, 13(9), e0203717. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0203717 . This is the same thing that happens when you eat sticky candy. Except, in this case, you’re inhaling the candy instead of chewing it.

The Safest Way to Vape

If, after considering the side effects of vaping, you want to give vaping a try, there are steps to take to keep yourself safe.

  • First, don’t buy or use vape oils from illegal vendors, unauthorized dealers, or unknown sources.
  • Second, avoid vape oils that contain Vitamine E acetate and diacetyl. Both these ingredients have been linked to lung injuries.
  • Third, choose a quality vaporizer that allows you can control the heat settings.
  • Fourth, if vaping cannabis oil is not something you want to do, try a dry flower vaporizer such as the Ghost Mv1 Vaporizer or the Air Vape X. This is a relatively new technology it has two advantages over oils. For one, dried flower is less processed than vape oil, and you won’t be breathing in as many additives. And two, the temperature required to vape bud is much lower than what’s needed to vaporize a cartridge of oil.

And finally, remember always to do your research on any new products that you are curious to try out!

Sources
  1. Blaha, M. (n.d.). 5 Vaping Facts You Need to Know. Retrieved July 31, 2020, from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/5-truths-you-need-to-know-about-vaping
  2. Gill, L. (2020, January 31). Is It Safe to Vape CBD? Retrieved July 31, 2020, from https://www.consumerreports.org/cbd/is-it-safe-to-vape-cbd/
  3. Varlet, V., Concha-Lozano, N., Berthet, A., Plateel, G., Favrat, B., De Cesare, M., Lauer, E., Augsburger, M., Thomas, A., & Giroud, C. (2016). Drug vaping applied to cannabis: Is "Cannavaping" a therapeutic alternative to marijuana?. Scientific reports, 6, 25599. https://doi.org/10.1038/srep25599
  4. Electronic Cigarettes. (2020, February 24). Retrieved July 31, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/index.htm
  5. Polosa, R., Cibella, F., Caponnetto, P., Maglia, M., Prosperini, U., Russo, C., & Tashkin, D. (2017). Health impact of E-cigarettes: a prospective 3.5-year study of regular daily users who have never smoked. Scientific reports, 7(1), 13825. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-14043-2
  6. Farsalinos, K. E., & Polosa, R. (2014). Safety evaluation and risk assessment of electronic cigarettes as tobacco cigarette substitutes: a systematic review. Therapeutic advances in drug safety, 5(2), 67–86. https://doi.org/10.1177/2042098614524430
  7. Boudi, F. B., Patel, S., Boudi, A., & Chan, C. (2019). Vitamin E Acetate as a Plausible Cause of Acute Vaping-related Illness. Cureus, 11(12), e6350. https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.6350
  8. Hays, J. T. (2019, October 12). Vaping during pregnancy: Is it safe? Retrieved July 31, 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/expert-answers/vaping-during-pregnancy/faq-20462062
  9. Benowitz N. L. (2010). Nicotine addiction. The New England journal of medicine, 362(24), 2295–2303. https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMra0809890
  10. Panlilio, L. V., Goldberg, S. R., & Justinova, Z. (2015). Cannabinoid abuse and addiction: Clinical and preclinical findings. Clinical pharmacology and therapeutics, 97(6), 616–627. https://doi.org/10.1002/cpt.118
  11. Prud'homme, M., Cata, R., & Jutras-Aswad, D. (2015). Cannabidiol as an Intervention for Addictive Behaviors: A Systematic Review of the Evidence. Substance abuse : research and treatment, 9, 33–38. https://doi.org/10.4137/SART.S25081
  12. Robert H. Shmerling, M. (2019, December 10). Can vaping damage your lungs? What we do (and don't) know. Retrieved July 31, 2020, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/can-vaping-damage-your-lungs-what-we-do-and-dont-know-2019090417734
  13. What Does Vaping Do to Your Lungs? (n.d.). Retrieved July 31, 2020, from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/what-does-vaping-do-to-your-lungs
  14. Reynolds, S. (2019, November 19). E-cigarette vapor linked to cancer in mice. Retrieved July 31, 2020, from https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/e-cigarette-vapor-linked-cancer-mice
  15. Shi, H., Fan, X., Horton, A., Haller, S. T., Kennedy, D. J., Schiefer, I. T., Dworkin, L., Cooper, C. J., & Tian, J. (2019). The Effect of Electronic-Cigarette Vaping on Cardiac Function and Angiogenesis in Mice. Scientific reports, 9(1), 4085. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-40847-5
  16. Caporale, A., Langham, M. C., Guo, W., Johncola, A., Chatterjee, S., & Wehrli, F. W. (2019). Acute Effects of Electronic Cigarette Aerosol Inhalation on Vascular Function Detected at Quantitative MRI. Radiology, 293(1), 97-106. doi:10.1148/radiol.2019190562
  17. Atuegwu, N. C., Perez, M. F., Oncken, C., Thacker, S., Mead, E. L., & Mortensen, E. M. (2019). Association between Regular Electronic Nicotine Product Use and Self-reported Periodontal Disease Status: Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health Survey. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(7), 1263. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16071263
  18. Isik Andrikopoulos, G., Farsalinos, K., & Poulas, K. (2019). Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) and Their Relevance in Oral Health. Toxics, 7(4), 61. https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics7040061
  19. Kim, S. A., Smith, S., Beauchamp, C., Song, Y., Chiang, M., Giuseppetti, A., Frukhtbeyn, S., Shaffer, I., Wilhide, J., Routkevitch, D., Ondov, J. M., & Kim, J. J. (2018). Cariogenic potential of sweet flavors in electronic-cigarette liquids. PloS one, 13(9), e0203717. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0203717

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