Vaping safer than smoking: 5 things to know

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
E-cigarette studies show vaping may be safer

Kicking the nicotine habit can be difficult making vaping with e-cigarettes a popular choice for many ex-smokers trying to wean from nicotine addiction. Some studies suggest vaping increases risk of lung infection. Here are 5 things to know about smoking versus e-cigarette vaping and your lung health.

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New study shows e-cigarettes safer or lungs

According to a new study led by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), studies done on rats suggesting e-cigarettes increase risk of respiratory infection may be misleading.

Researchers for the new study enrolled humans trying to quite smoking and who used e-cigarettes. In the study, 66 percent of 941 survey respondents reported fewer respiratory symptoms.

Professor Peter Hajek from QMUL said: "There is no doubt that e-cigarettes are much safer than conventional cigarettes, but smokers are still led to believe that they're dangerous."

Study not definitive

What is important to know is that this study relied on self-reporting. Hajek says it has to be interpreted with caution and more research is need to prove vaping is less harmful for respiratory infection risk than cigarettes.

Misinformation

Consumers have been warned about e-cigarettes harm based on rat studies that the researchers for the current study say were the result of rat experiments that used high exposure to e-cigarette vapors.

Human studies showed e-cigarettes might have a protective affect on the lungs from polypropylene glycol contained in the vaping liquid that has been shown to kill bacteria and fungus. More studies are needed to know for certain.

There has been much propaganda about the chemical circulated on the internet. Polypropylene glycol is added to food and cosmetics, including pet food. You can find online warnings that the chemical is found in antifreeze and should not be ingested by humans or animals.The USDA has deemed the chemical to be safe.

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Should you switch to e-cigarettes?

Anything you can do to stop smoking will help your lungs and cardiovascular health. Researchers for this study feel the finding provides "reasonable reassurance" that e-cigarettes could help lower the incidence of respiratory infections for those trying to quit smoking, despite the study's limitations.

Vaping still delivers nicotine, but less chance of cancer

E-cigarettes won't help with nicotine addiction. The American Lung Association warns that vaping might even deliver more nicotine than regular cigarettes.

Nicotine poisoning has been a concern, according to the American Lung Association who reports there has been an increase in the number of calls to poison centers that are the result of vaping. Other reports have come from accidental ingestion of e-cigarette liquid.

But another new study has shown lower levels of carcinogens in the urine of people who exclusively switched to e-cigarettes. The finding, published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research showed no difference in nicotine levels in the body however.

"This study suggests that smokers who completely switch to e-cigarettes and stop smoking tobacco cigarettes may significantly reduce their exposure to many cancer-causing chemicals," said lead author Maciej Goniewicz, an assistant professor of oncology at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y.

Nicotine poisoning symptoms include nausea, vomiting and in severe cases seizures and respiratory depression.

It's also important to know flavored vaping liquid might contain diacetyl that is known to be toxic to the lungs. The chemical is added to microwave popcorn and other foods and is associated with "popcorn lung".

References:

"Changes in the Frequency of Airway Infections in Smokers who Switched to Vaping: Results of an Online Survey'. Joanna Astrid Miler, Bernhard-Michael Mayer and Peter Hajek. '
Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy 2016.
DOI: 10.4172/2155-6105.1000290

Nicotine and Tobacco Research

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Comments

Just an update, in the last year almost all juice manufacturers have made a very concerted and public effort to remove all traces of diacetyl from their liquids.
Awesome! Thank you so much.