Everything you need to know about the impact of vaping on our bodies.
One of the most debated issues nowadays concerns the impact that e-cigs and vaping liquids have on our bodies, and – probably – you too have sometimes wondered if the electronic cigarette is bad or not.
As you may already know, the answer to this question is not (yet) clear-cut, as personal vaporizers have only been on the market for ten years and health studies only report short-term usage.
However, to date, we already have several results and information that give us an idea about it.
To fully understand everything we will talk about in the next lines, we suggest that you abandon any prejudice or “blinders,” whether you are in favor or against vaping, and objectively evaluate all the theses listed below.
How an electronic cigarette works and what substances are contained in liquids
Before delving into the health issue, we must make sure that you know exactly what is inside the electronic cigarette and how it works, but if you already know the subject well, you can skip this part and move on to the next one.
The e-cig is a battery-powered device that allows you to inhale a flavored aerosol that replaces the habit of burnt tobacco smoke.
This is possible thanks to the presence of an electric circuit that – with the passage of current – can instantly vaporize the liquid in contact with the resistance present in the atomizer, also called a coil.
Coils are coils of resistive wire (made of metal) that heat up when electricity passes through them. They are in contact with an absorbent material – usually organic cotton – which conveys the e-liquid from the tank to their presence.
As for liquids, here’s what they are made of:
- Propylene Glycol (PG)
- Vegetable Glycerin (VG)
- Concentrated flavors
- Liquid nicotine (optional)
- Water (optional)
The first two components, when mixed, form the so-called neutral bases for electronic cigarettes, a dense fluid that, upon vaporization, guarantees a consistency similar to traditional cigarette smoke.
VG is a natural substance extracted from plant raw materials, while PG is created in the laboratory from the hydration reaction of propylene oxide and then purified. They are both widely used in the cosmetic and food industry, and you can also find them in many drugs (take a look at some labels or leaflets, and you will easily realize this).
On the other hand, the flavors are of food origin (dissolved in PG) and can be synthetic or organic. It must be emphasized that – contrary to what one might think – synthetic ones are no worse than organic ones since they are made with molecules identical or very similar to natural ones and under full human control.
Nicotine needs no introduction; it is the alkaloid of the tobacco plant that gives addiction to its regular consumption. Still, its presence in vaping liquids is optional (more on that in a moment).
Well, now that we have “laid out” everything we need, let’s move on to the facts and see what impact the use of e-cigs has on our health.
Effects of the electronic cigarette on the lungs
The e-cigarette, as a device, is completely harmless, but you have to make sure the device you buy is made by a reputable vape manufacturer.
Due to the fact that the vape device is a portable model that must use according to specific criteria such as the presence of a battery and a circuit, a problem that does not arise with entry-level models that limit manual functions and guarantee great safety.
What raises the most doubt to date is, rightly, the impact that the inhalation of the vapors of the e-cig can have during long-term daily use.
We know that PG and VG – when vaporized at suitable temperatures – do not create particular problems in this sense, except in cases where the user is sensitive/allergic to one or both substances.
The short-term effects of their use may be irritation of the airways and cough in sensitive subjects, the long-term ones we do not yet know. We know, however, very well the effects of burning tobacco smoke, which is notoriously carcinogenic and deadly for humans, characteristics that vaping does not possess.
The famous “water in the lungs” is, in any case, only an urban legend, also because often in the e-liquids of water, there is just none!
The aerosol produced by personal vaporizers is composed of vapor and micro-particles of liquid, like fog or clouds, which are dispersed within the respiratory system after inhalation.
However, this does not create an accumulation of fluids inside the lungs since these “micro-droplets” (one-thousandth of a millimeter large) are absorbed and disposed of by the body like any other gaseous element we breathe, starting with anhydride. Carbon dioxide and everything that contains the air.
So the real question is:
what effect does the absorption of vaping liquids have on our body?
For the moment, none in particular, as long as the vaporization does not contain harmful substances.
However, suppose the e-liquids are overheated due to incorrect use of the device. In that case, the steam could contain elements such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde, which are harmful and carcinogenic to humans. To overcome this problem, many devices (including several pod mods) are equipped with the so-called “temperature control,” which avoids burning the cotton in case of dry shots and the production of toxic scents.
If, on the other hand, a box mod with adjustable power is used, it is essential to consult special software to calculate the correct wattage based on the coil housed inside the electronic cigarette’s atomizer.
Otherwise, the aerosol of e-cigarettes contains:
- Thousands of substances.
- The air we breathe itself.
- So assessing the long-term impact of each being still takes a long, long time.
Regarding the content of heavy metals, the values found during the dedicated studies (such as the Detection and quantitative determination of heavy metals in electronic cigarette refill liquids using Total Reflection X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometry) did not show concentrations so high as to create problems whatsoever. Traces of cadmium, lead, nickel, and copper were found, but all below the human tolerance threshold, regulated by the authorities for inhalation medicines.
During the American scientific research Association on electronic cigarette use with lead, cadmium, barium, and antimony body burden: Nhanes 2015-2016, urine and blood samples were taken from a group of vapers (former smokers), and one individual has examined non-smokers, healthy, with no current or previous pathologies. By comparison, blood lead and urine cadmium, barium, and antimony levels were the same between vapers and non-smokers/vapers.
However, the same cannot be said of smokers and dual users (who vape and smoke as well), in whom high concentrations of lead in the blood and cadmium in the urine are often found.
What about nicotine?
This tobacco alkaloid is harmful as it is quickly absorbed by the blood and reaches the brain, interacting with our nervous system.
Nicotine causes a slight increase in heart rate and blood pressure, suppressing hunger and reducing stress when taken in small doses. However, daily use leads to its accumulation in the brain, causing opposite effects:
- Increased release of adrenaline
This neurotoxin is therefore clearly toxic but not carcinogenic. However, other substances cause cancer in smokers, including nitrosamines, cyanide, arsenic, and another 60 or so formed during tobacco combustion.
Its presence in e-liquids aims to avoid withdrawal crises when abandoning the traditional cigarette, and it is advisable to gradually decrease the doses until it is eliminated.
Is a clearer idea starting to take shape in your mind?
Is the problem unraveling?
The real usefulness of the electronic cigarette
Now that we have an overview of the impact that the aerosol of the electronic cigarette has on our bodies, it is time to take stock and draw up our final thesis.
Are you ready?
The electronic cigarette is not good for you; it is not a drug and even less “royal jelly,” but Who cannot say that it is carcinogenic or highly harmful to the body.
Its true validity lies in the fact that its vapors are much, much, much less harmful than tobacco smoke and can play an important role in the fight against smoking.
Its purpose is to replace a habit that hurts 100% with one that, ideally, hurts 90% less, as Public Health England (PHE), the executive agency of the Department of Health and Social Care, states. in the United Kingdom, which began operations on 1 April 2013 to protect and improve health and well-being and reduce health inequalities.
The same confirmation also comes from Dreamods Vaping Lab, which last October interviewed the researcher Dr. Massimo Caruso and the biochemistry professor Giovanni Livolti of the University of Catania (take a look at the complete video), questioning them on various topics related to vaping, including precisely if the electronic cigarette hurts.
The (optional) presence of nicotine in e-liquids is – as mentioned before – a delicate element to be managed intelligently and responsibly. You must be careful while handling it since contact with skin, eyes and mucous membranes is absolutely to be avoided, even if the maximum concentration allowed by the European TPD (Tobacco Products Directive) is still well below the fatal dose LD50 (0, 5 – 1 mg/kg body weight).
Its usefulness is to ferry the smoker from smoking cessation to electronic steam, avoiding withdrawal crises and psycho-physical failures that can make the unfortunate flinch and lead him to relight the burnt cigarette. In addition, a high concentration of nicotine in liquids (max 20 mg/ml) helps the smoker take his daily dose intermittently, like the classic cigarette, thus avoiding the risk of relapses.
The management of liquid nicotine is very important, and for its use to bear fruit in the cessation of addiction from it, it is necessary to lower the quantity gradually. However, there is no specific program, and each user must act in a personalized way when he feels it, without ever forcing his hand too much.
It is advisable to use heavier doses and put your e-cig hand a few times a day rather than sticking to it 24 hours a day with nicotine at 2 mg/ml. Remember that you are not breathing the pure mountain air.
So, to summarize, here are the advantages of the e-cig:
It allows you to stop smoking classic cigarettes;
You gradually detoxify from bondage and the negative effects of nicotine addiction;
Stop inhaling carbon monoxide and other toxic and carcinogenic substances from burnt tobacco smoke;
It allows you to maintain the habit of the ritual and the pleasantness of the gesture;
No more yellowed teeth, lips, and nails;
Improvement of breath and breathing;
A great economic saving.
All without running, until proven otherwise, the particular health risks, obviously in case of correct and conscious use.
It is precisely for this reason that these devices are intended exclusively for adults and smokers, both for safety and health issues.