Vaping Linked to a Noisy, Foreboding Consequence of Poor Lung Health

“The take-home message is that electronic cigarettes are not safe when it comes to lung health.”


Electronic cigarettes are marketed as less harmful alternatives to cigarette smoking, but researchers are increasingly concerned about the potential long-term health consequences of vaping. A study released Thursday in the journal Tobacco Control adds to the growing number of reasons the phenomenon is more risky than it might appear.

According to scientists from the University of Rochester and the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, people who vape are nearly twice as likely to experience wheezing compared to people who don’t regularly use tobacco products. Wheezing — which is typically caused by inflammation and narrowing of the airway between the throat and lungs — is often seen as a precursor to serious health conditions, including lung cancer and heart failure.

“The take-home message is that electronic cigarettes are not safe when it comes to lung health,” study author Deborah Ossip, Ph.D., announced Thursday. “The changes we’re seeing with vaping, both in laboratory experiments and studies of people who vape, are consistent with early signs of lung damage, which is very worrisome.”

Scientists are concerned about the long-term health consequences of vaping.

Importantly, this study doesn’t prove that vaping causes wheezing. Instead, it identifies an association between the two. This association has been found in previous studies as well, including a 2017 paper in PLOS One that found a link between e-cigarette use and greater odds of wheezing and shortness of breath.

Here the researchers analyzed self-reported data collected from 28,000 Americans who participated in the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) study. The study participants including current vapers who used e-cigarettes exclusively, people who only smoked traditional cigarettes, dual users, and non-users who avoided tobacco products.

When they compared non-users to those who exclusively vape, they found that the risk of wheezing and related respiratory symptoms significantly increased: Adult vapers were 1.7 times more likely to experience difficulty breathing. Meanwhile, vapers had lower odds of wheezing compared to those who only smoked cigarettes and those who used both tobacco products.

“Promoting complete cessation of both smoking and vaping will be beneficial to maximize the risk reduction of wheezing and other related respiratory symptoms,” the study authors recommend. “Importantly, we reported that ex-smokers who did not vape, although they had already quit smoking, still have significantly elevated risk of wheezing and other related respiratory symptoms, compared with never smokers, suggesting long-term impact of prior smoking.”

A video released as part of the FDA’s anti-vaping campaign, “The Real Cost.” 

The authors note these results are particularly concerning because of the mass use of e-cigarettes by both adults and juveniles alike. They write statistics indicate that close to 13 percent of American adults have tried vaping, and four percent currently do so. Meanwhile, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data show that in 2018, vaping increased by 78 percent among ninth- to twelfth-graders and 48 percent in sixth- to eighth-graders. In 2017, more than 2 million middle and high school students were regular users of e-cigarettes.

It’s a rise that caused Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., to announce in September that the use of e-cigarettes by teenagers has now reached “nothing short of an epidemic proportion of growth.” According to Gottlieb, the “FDA won’t tolerate a whole generation of young people becoming addicted to nicotine,” and is putting pressure on e-cigarette makers to cease marketing to teenagers.

In turn, the scientists behind this study are concerned that their research indicates that if young people continue to vape, they will develop serious health consequences. Vaping might be healthier than smoking cigarettes, but that doesn’t mean the act itself is healthy.


Background: Wheezing is a symptom of potential respiratory disease and known to be associated with smoking. Electronic cigarette use (‘vaping’) has increased exponentially in recent years. This study examined the cross-sectional association of vaping with wheezing and related respiratory symptoms and compare this association with smokers and dual users.

Methods: The Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health study wave 2 data collected from October 2014 to October 2015 with 28 171 adults were used. The cross-sectional association of vaping with self-reported wheezing and related respiratory symptoms relative to smokers and dual users of tobacco and electronic cigarettes were studied using multivariable logistic and cumulative logistic regression models with consideration of complex sampling design.

Results: Among the 28 171 adult participants, 641 (1.2%) were current vapers who used e-cigarettes exclusively, 8525 (16.6%) were current exclusive smokers, 1106 (2.0%) were dual users and 17 899 (80.2%) were non-users. Compared with non-users, risks of wheezing and related respiratory symptoms were significantly increased in current vapers (adjusted OR (aOR)=1.67, 95% CI: 1.23 to 2.15). Current vapers had significantly lower risk in wheezing and related respiratory symptoms compared with current smokers (aOR=0.68, 95% CI: 0.53 to 0.87). No significant differences were found between dual users and current smokers in risk of wheezing and related respiratory symptoms (aOR=1.06, 95% CI: 0.91 to 1.24).

Conclusions: Vaping was associated with increased risk of wheezing and related respiratory symptoms. Current vapers had lower risk in wheezing and related respiratory symptoms than current smokers or dual users but higher than non-users. Both dual-use and smoking significantly increased the risk of wheezing and related respiratory symptoms.

Vaping and Lung Cancer: What You Should Know

Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, put nicotine into your lungs and bloodstream. And they do it without the smoke and tar of a regular cigarette. But other harmful things can get into your body when you vape. That’s especially true if you use flavored cigarettes.

E-cigarettes, sometimes called vapes, run on batteries and heat up nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals. They turn them into a vapor you can breathe in. Many chemicals that cause cancer are in this vapor. That includes formaldehyde, heavy metals, and particles that can get stuck in the deepest parts of your lungs.

It’s hard to know how much of these chemicals you breathe in when you vape. The levels are usually lower in e-cigarettes than regular cigarettes. But some studies show that high-voltage e-cigarettes have more formaldehyde and other toxins than standard e-cigarettes.

Also, some chemicals in e-cigarettes can irritate the airways in your lungs. This can cause problems. Studies have found that flavorings like cinnamon can cause inflammation of lung cells. But more research is needed to understand the long-term health risks of vaping.

Popcorn Lung

One chemical in some e-cigarette flavorings is a buttery-flavored one called diacetyl. It’s been linked to a serious lung disease called bronchiolitis obliterans. It’s also known as popcorn lung.

The disease gets its name because people working in a microwave popcorn factory got sick with serious lung problems from breathing in diacetyl. It was being used to flavor popcorn, caramel, and dairy products. The way the chemical is breathed in with e-cigarettes is a lot like the way the workers at the microwave popcorn plants inhaled it.

The chemical can cause a dry cough that won’t go away. It also causes shortness of breath, wheezing, headache, fever, aches, and other health problems. The vapors also can irritate your eyes, skin, nose, and throat.

Diacetyl scars the tiny airs sacs in your lungs. That makes your airways thick and narrow.

After the link between diacetyl and lung disease was found, many popcorn companies took the chemical out of their products. But it’s still used in many e-cigarette flavors, including vanilla, maple, and coconut. It’s also been found in many alcohol-flavored, candy-flavored, and fruit-flavored e-cigarettes. These are choices that often appeal to kids, teenagers, and young adults.

There’s no cure for popcorn lung, but some medications can help keep it from getting worse. These include certain kinds of antibiotics, steroids to calm inflammation in your lungs, and drugs to slow down your immune system.

Why Vaping is an “Epidemic” and Why It Will Be Tough for the FDA to Stop It

E-cigarettes, vaping

Vaping has become so prevalent that it’s easy to forget that electronic cigarettes were only introduced in the United States in 2006. Twelve years later, the Food and Drug Administration appears to regret the its relaxed stance on the devices.

This week, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., announced that, despite their potential to help adult smokers transition from combustible tobacco products, the current acceleration of e-cigarette use by teenagers is cause for alarm.

Essentially, teens aren’t vaping to quit cigarettes; instead they’ve “invented a new kind of bad habit,” according to a memorable recent assessment in The New Yorker.

Vaping: “An Epidemic”

The commissioner says that use of e-cigarettes by teenagers has now reached “nothing short of an epidemic proportion of growth.” In a briefing with reporters Gottlieb said that in 2017 more than two million middle and high school students were regular users of e-cigarettes.

In his statement, Gottlieb emphasized that calling the teenage use of e-cigarettes an epidemic was nothing something to be taken lightly, explaining:

I use the word epidemic with great care. E-cigs have become an almost ubiquitous — and dangerous — trend among teens. The disturbing and accelerating trajectory of use we’re seeing in youth, and the resulting path to addiction, must end. It’s simply not tolerable. I’ll be clear. The FDA won’t tolerate a whole generation of young people becoming addicted to nicotine as a tradeoff for enabling adults to have unfettered access to these same products.

Vaping in California.
Vaping in California.

What’s the Definition of an “Epidemic”?

The CDC and the FDA define an epidemic as “the occurrence of more or more cases of disease than expected in a given area or among a specific group of people over a particular period of time.” An outbreak, meanwhile, would be an epidemic limited to localized increase in the incidence of the disease.

While the word “disease” is used here, the FDA has previously used the phrase ‘epidemic’ to describe situations where a massive amount of people are at risk because of a substance. The opioid epidemic and the tobacco epidemic are two instances in which the phrase was considered appropriate.

When Vaping Became So Popular

And the occurrence of e-cigarette smoking among teens has massively expanded in a short period of time: According to a 2016 Surgeon General report e-cigarette use grew by 900 percent among high school students from 2011 to 2015.

The CDC also states that in 2017 approximately 3.3 percent of middle school students reported they used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days, an increase from just 0.6 percent in 2011. Meanwhile, among high school students in 2016, nearly 12 out of every 100 students did the same — an increase from 1.5 percent of high school students in 2011.

That’s a problem when the use of e-cigarettes is far from healthy. While they are less risky than regular cigarettes, almost all include nicotine, an addictive substance that can negatively affect adolescent brains. Scientists are also concerned that e-cigarette use can contribute to DNA damage associated with oral cancers.

How Does One Stop a Teen From Vaping?

(Good luck.)

How to combat teen access, and interest in, e-cigarettes is something that the FDA is currently attempting to figure out. The fact of the matter is that vaping is seen as cool; schools across the country have reported an increase of teens sneaking e-cigarettes onto campus with some schools even installing sensors to catch them in the act.

Vaping has a huge presence on Instagram; teens show off smoke tricks and Juuls are presented as status symbols.

The FDA says that device makers have 60 days to prove they can keep teens from buying their products and if they fail they’re at risk of being removed from the market entirely. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, seven out of ten teens are exposed to e-cig ads.

Juul — the preferred brand of teens — spokeswoman Victoria Davis tells The New York Times that the company is having problems getting Instagram, Facebook, and Amazon to take down ads geared towards youths. Epidemic or not, e-cigarettes still sell.

E-Cig Harms Outweigh Benefits, Study Finds

Vaping creates more cigarette smokers than quitters

The harms that electronic cigarettes currently pose to non-smoking teens and young adults far outweigh the potential benefits to adult smokers who want to give up conventional cigarettes, according to findings from a newly published risk analysis.

The risk model by Samir Soneji, PhD, of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center, Lebanon, N.H., and colleagues found that in a single year, 2,070 adult smokers would successfully kick the habit using e-cigarettes (albeit with a wide 95% confidence interval).

But the model also estimated that e-cigarette use among non-smoking teens and young adults would lead to 168,000 new smokers.

The study, published in PLOS ONE, concluded that e-cigarette use currently represents more harm than benefit at the population level.

“The model suggests that the harms to kids are substantial in magnitude, while the promised benefits for smokers wanting to quit are not very robust,” Soneji told MedPage Today.

He said the study is among the first to attempt to quantify the balance of harms and benefits associated with e-cigarette use.

The researchers used census counts, national health and tobacco use surveys, and recent e-cigarette studies to calculate the expected years of life gained or lost from e-cigarette use on smoking cessation among current smokers and transition to long-term cigarette use among never smokers in a 2014 population cohort.

Using these data, the team performed stochastic simulation using the Monte Carlo model.

The investigators assessed three outcomes:

  • Additional number of current cigarette smokers who will quit smoking through the current use of e-cigarettes and abstain from smoking for ≥7 years, compared with those who do not currently use e-cigarettes
  • Additional number of adolescents and young adults who will initiative cigarette smoking through the ever use of e-cigarettes and eventually become daily cigarette smokers at age 35-39, compared with those who never used e-cigarettes
  • Total number of expected years of life gained or lost across all these population subgroups

The estimates based on the modeling were as follows:

  • A total of 2,070 additional current cigarette smoking adults ages 25-69 (95% CI -42,900 to 46,200) would quit smoking in 2015 and remain continually abstinent from smoking for ≥7 years through the use of e-cigarettes in 2014
  • A total of 168,000 additional never-cigarette smoking adolescents ages 12-17 and young adults ages 18-29 (95% CI 114,000-229,000) would initiate cigarette smoking in 2015 and eventually become daily cigarette smokers at age 35-39 through the use of e-cigarettes in 2014
  • E-cigarette use in 2014 would lead to 1,510,000 years of life lost (95% CI 920,000-2,160,000), assuming an optimistic 95% relative harm reduction of e-cigarette use compared with cigarette smoking
  • Assuming an approximately 75% relative harm reduction, the model estimated -1,550,000 years of life lost (95% CI -2,200,000 to -980,000); assuming an approximately 50% harm reduction, the model estimated -1,600,000 years of life lost (95% CI -2,290,000 to -1,030,000)

Although electronic cigarette use is widely accepted as being safer than smoking combustible cigarettes, there is now strong evidence that their use by teens and young adults increases smoking risk, Soneji noted.

“There have now been about a dozen studies from different countries consistently showing about a threefold increased risk of smoking initiation among kids who vape. What is even more concerning is that the risk appears to be greatest among kids who are otherwise at low- or moderate-risk of starting smoking.”

He said the current, population-level risk balance could shift if e-cigarettes are adequately regulated to make them unattractive and unavailable to teens, while optimizing their effectiveness as reduced-harm products for smoking cessation.

“Ten million smokers tried to quit last year. Half tried to quit cold turkey, which is a very ineffective way to quit. E-cigarettes may have some advantages over currently available nicotine-replacement therapies, in that, like cigarettes, they deliver nicotine through inhalation.”

The FDA Changes Its Mind on Vaping, Cracks Down on Nicotine Instead

There’s still a lot we need to figure out about e-cigarettes when it comes to their health impacts. But smoking definitely kills, and regulators in the US have a new plan for tackling the problem.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has just announced a comprehensive new roadmap for regulating tobacco products, and they have dramatically shifted their focus to nicotine addiction. And as part of the new plan, some of last year’s stringent regulations on vaping are going to be relaxed.

The FDA regulations for e-cigarette products were announced last May, and they were so stringent that some people were worried it could wipe out the burgeoning industry, despite the fact there’s evidence vaping does help smokers with quitting.

But now the agency is changing tack, putting nicotine at the heart of the issue and admitting that when it comes to ways of delivering this addictive substance, there’s a spectrum of methods – and some, like traditional cigarettes, are far more unhealthy than others.

“It’s the other chemical compounds in tobacco, and in the smoke created by setting tobacco on fire, that directly and primarily cause the illness and death, not the nicotine,” said FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb.

“Even with unanswered questions about benefits and risks, there are now different technologies to deliver nicotine for those who need it, that doesn’t bring with it the deadly consequences of burning tobacco and inhaling the resulting smoke.”

At the heart of FDA’s new strategy will be a push to lower nicotine levels in traditional cigarettes to levels that won’t cause addiction. The long-term goal here is to prevent young people from getting hooked when they try their first smoke.

“I’ve seen the science in this area and believe it holds much promise,” said Gottlieb.

“We intend to take a hard look at the existing published literature on this important topic and hear from stakeholders, which could provide the basis for regulatory action.”

And while the tobacco industry will be forced to cut back on addictive nicotine levels in their products, the manufacturers of e-cigarettes have been granted an extension on applications for product approval.

“The FDA is committed to encouraging innovations that have the potential to make a notable public health difference,” the agency explained in a statement.

“This action will afford the agency time to explore clear and meaningful measures to make tobacco products less toxic, appealing and addictive.”

But it doesn’t mean the agency is enabling a vaping boom. The agency will still work to develop product standards that will prevent known e-cigarette risks, such as exploding batteries or preventing children from getting easy access to all those sweet-smelling e-cigarette liquids.

On top of that, the FDA will be seeking public input on several aspects of the new plan, including the question of whether the flavouring of tobacco products – say, menthol or cherry cigarettes – makes them more enticing to young people.

They will also look into the best approaches to regulating e-cigarette flavours like bubblegum and gummy bear, which could be appealing to kids.

While the FDA won’t encourage you to go and vape to your heart’s content, it’s certainly a shift towards recognising that e-cigarettes are an innovative way to deliver nicotine, and that regulators need to tackle them differently.

“The overwhelming amount of death and disease attributable to tobacco is caused by addiction to cigarettes –  the only legal consumer product that, when used as intended, will kill half of all long-term users,” said Gottlieb.

“Unless we change course, 5.6 million young people alive today will die prematurely later in life from tobacco use.

“Envisioning a world where cigarettes would no longer create or sustain addiction, and where adults who still need or want nicotine could get it from alternative and less harmful sources, needs to be the cornerstone of our efforts – and we believe it’s vital that we pursue this common ground.”

Vaping as bad for your heart as smoking cigarettes, study finds

Electronic cigarettes may be “far more dangerous” than was thought
Electronic cigarettes may be ‘far more dangerous’ than was thought 

Vaping could be as bad for the heart as smoking cigarettes, a new study suggests.

The findings triggered warnings that electronic cigarettes may be “far more dangerous” than was thought.

Trials found that a typical session using a device caused similar effects to the main heart artery as smoking a cigarette.

The research, presented at the world’s largest cardiology conference, comes amid growing controversy about the safety of e-cigarettes.

Vapers enjoy different flavours at Vape Lab in Shoreditch, London
Vapers enjoy different flavours at Vape Lab in Shoreditch, London

Last year Public Health England (PHE) endorsed vaping, claiming the habit was 95 per cent safer than smoking. GPs will soon be able prescribe them to help smokers who are trying to give up.

Researchers at the European Society for Cardiology congress  in Rome said such steps were premature – and that they would not encourage the use of the devices.

British heart experts said the findings were important, and said much more research was needed to examine the long-term safety of e-cigarette use.

The trial involved a group of adult smokers, whose hearts were monitored while they vaped, and when they smoked ordinary cigarettes.

Researchers said a a typical vaping session had a similar impact on stiffness of the aorta – the main artery into the heart – as smoking one regular cigarette.

Lead researcher Prof Charalambos Vlachopoulos, from the University of Athens Medical School said: “We measured aortic stiffness. If the aorta is stiff you multiply your risk of dying, either from heart diseases or from other causes.”

Although the study was not designed to show whether electronic cigarettes can cause long term damage to our blood vessels, it shows that [they] cannot be assumed to be risk freeProf Peter Weissberg, Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation

The unfavourable effects shown from a 30 minute session vaping – described by researchers as a typical habit – were similar to those from five minutes’ smoking a cigarette, the study found.

“The aorta is like a balloon next to the heart,” he said. “The more stiff the balloon is, the more difficult for the heart to pump. It’s the most powerful biomarker we have for estimating cardiovascular risk.”

The experiments, which involved 24 adults with an average age of 30, only examined the immediate effects of e-cigarettes and smoking.

The cardiologist said the long-term risks of vaping remain unknown – but that he would not recommend their use.

”The value of the acute study is that it gives an insight of how long your aorta is stressed throughout the day – because this happens throughout the day, this is something that happens repeatedly,” he said.

“There could be long term heart dangers. They are far more dangerous than people realise.”

He criticised PHE’s stance on e-cigarettes.

“I wouldn’t recommend them now as a method to give up smoking. I think the UK has rushed into adopting this method,” he said.

Office of National Statistics data shows a record 2.2million Brits regularly used e-cigarettes in 2015.

Prof Peter Weissberg, medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said: “This important study tries to determine if e-cigarette smoking has any harmful effects on our blood vessels.

He said: “The findings show that electronic cigarettes have a similar effect to normal cigarettes on the stiffness of the main blood vessel in the body.

“Although the study was not designed to show whether electronic cigarettes can cause long term damage to our blood vessels, it shows that [they] cannot be assumed to be risk free.

“Much more research is needed to establish the safety of long term use of these devices.”

Nigel Farage: E-cigarettes are ‘jolly good’Play!00:32

However, Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health, said: “This study does not prove that e-cigarettes are as hazardous as smoking.”  She highlighted other findings from the study, showing that if a vaping session was limited to five minutes, the impact on aortic stiffness was significantly less than that associated with a cigarette.

Tom Pruen, chief scientific officer for the Electronic Cigarette Industry Trade Association, said: “Lots of things have short term effects on aortic stiffness – and nicotine is already known to do this. On the other hand, so does caffeine, and in both cases it is transitory, without any significant long term effect.”

Rosanna O’Connor, from Public Health England, said: “Vaping carries a fraction of the risk of smoking yet many smokers are still not aware, which could be keeping people smoking rather than switching to a much less harmful alternative.”

Vaping is ‘as bad as smoking cigarettes’ for damaging key blood vessels

‘E-cigarettes are less harmful than traditional cigarettes but they are not harmless,’ says professor.

Vaping damages key blood vessels in the heart in a similar way to normal cigarettes, heart experts have said.

Despite the NHS backing e-cigarettes as a quitting aid, scientists have stressed that vaping is “far more dangerous than people realise”.

Heart expert Professor Robert West, of University College London toldthe Sun: “It would certainly be fair to say the study shows electronic cigarettes are not without any risk.

“The critical question is how much risk.”

Researchers at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Rome have called the NHS decision to back e-cigarettes premature.

The team found the average vaping session has a similar impact on the stiffness of the heart’s aorta as smoking a normal cigarette.

Speaking in Rome, lead researcher Professor Charalambos Viachopoulos from the University of Athens said : “We measured aortic stiffness. If the aorta is stiff you multiply your risk of dying, either from heart diseases or from other causes.”

He added: “E-cigarettes are less harmful than traditional cigarettes but they are not harmless.

“There could be long term heart dangers.They are far more dangerous than people realise.

“I wouldn’t recommend them now as a method to give up smoking. I think the UK has rushed into adopting this method.”

Since January, e-cigarettes have been available for GPs to prescribe to patients to quit smoking.

Public Health England (PHE) inspired the decision with a 2015 report that found e-cigarettes are 95 per cent healthier than normal cigarettes.

Rosanna O’Connor, director of drugs, alcohol and tobacco at Public Health England, agreed, saying: “Vaping carries a fraction of the risk of smoking.

“Yet many smokers are still not aware, which could be keeping people smoking rather than switching to a much less harmful alternative.”

Vaping causes short term damage to nose so only exhale through mouth.

Do you vape? Don't blow it through your nose
Exhaling through your nose can cause problems with your nostrils 

It’s well accepted that vaping can be a pretty good way to kick a cigarette habit.

Around 2.6million people in the UK vape regularly. However, with new technology comes a whole new set of problems that users may not be aware of.

Whether you smoke or vape, it’s fairly common to exhale out of your nostrils. Some people just prefer the taste of flavoured e-cigarettes that way.

But exhaling the vapour out of your nose can actually cause damage to the inside of your nostrils.

Wait, so what happens to your nostrils?

Many vapers have claimed that e-cigs have badly dried out the skin in their noses, in many cases causing random nosebleeds.

The main chemical that’s causing this is propylene glycol (PG), a dehydrating chemical that can suck the moisture out the sensitive skin inside your nostrils.

Usually it’s not that serious, but one man, William Keeler, told he experienced this in a particularly bad way around six months ago – and that at its worst he was ‘picking bits of flesh from my nostrils’.

‘You know when you touch an open wound and it burns? That’s what it felt like – there was a really strong burning inside my nose,’ he said.

‘And there was constantly a bad smell – which I can only describe as the smell of poo – all day, every day.

‘I went to the doctors and at first they thought I was using cocaine, which I wasn’t.

‘Then when I said I vaped, they told me to stop exhaling it out of my nose and to breath out of my mouth. After a few months it was much better.’

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 27: Vape Lab employee Leonardo Verzaro uses an E-Cigarette while working on August 27, 2014 in London, England. The Department of Health have ruled out the outlawing of 'e-cigs' in enclosed spaces in England, despite calls by WHO, The World Health Organisation to do so. WHO have recommended a ban on indoor smoking of e-cigs as part of tougher regulation of products dangerous to children. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Employees in a vape lab, exhaling through the mouth – good call 

Oh my God, is it permanent?

E-cigarettes haven’t been around long enough to know for certain whether or not they cause permanent damage.

Prof Nirmal Kumar, a Consultant Otolaryngologist and the honorary secretary of ENT UK, told ‘The risks of vaping are not yet fully defined, but there’s a growing body of evidence that it is not as harmless as we first thought.

‘There are lots of chemicals in it that can harm the nose. But whether it will cause long-term damage is not yet proven.’

And Keeler added that, while the burning went away within a few months, his nostrils ‘still haven’t fully recovered’.

However, this seems to be a problem that mostly goes away after a few weeks to a month.

How do you heal it?

Prof John Britton, professor of epidemiology and director of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Related Studies, had some pretty simple advice.

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‘Exhale through your mouth,’ he told ‘Propylene glycol does cause some drying as well as mild irritation of the airways.’

If you can, it’s probably best to give vaping a rest completely for this time, as the PG can also dry out your throat. Try also regularly dabbing small amounts of Vaseline onto the lining inside your nose, to sooth the dryness and add a bit of moisture.

What if it doesn’t get better?

Then the best thing to do is visit your GP.

They will examine your nose and, if necessary, refer you to an ENT (ear, nose and throat) specialist for further examination.

You could suffer random nosebleeds if you exhale through the nose (Picture: Getty Images)
You could suffer random nosebleeds if you exhale through the nose .

Should I give up vaping for good?

If you’re using e-cigs to quit smoking – and it’s helping – then there’s probably no need.

We don’t know much about the long-term effects of vaping, but most of the evidence so far suggests that it’s less harmful than cigarettes (although it is more harmful than not smoking anything).

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 09: Muslims taking part at the first ever congregational Friday prayer in Parliament Square in London, England on October 9, 2015. The prayer was organised by 'Muslim Climate Action' group and it is the first time  that a Jammu'ah prayer takes place in Parliament Square as a demonstration of a strong and united voice from British Muslim communities calling for change and action on climate change. (Photo by Tolga Akmen/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Here’s what you really need to know about British Muslims

‘Almost all vapers in Britain are current smokers who are using e-cigarettes to help them quit or cut down, or ex-smokers who have switched to vaping,’ Rosanna O’Connor, director of Alcohol, Drugs and Tobacco at Public Health England, told

‘The evidence is clear that vaping is much less harmful to health than smoking and the best thing a smoker can do for themselves and those around them is to quit completely, now and forever.’

And Prof Simon Capewell, vice president for policy at the Faculty for Public Health, told that vaping was ‘the second best thing’ someone trying to quit can do (after using NHS services), although he warns that it’s ‘not risk-free’.


Vaping may harm the lungs

New toxicity data show why the inhaled vapors may prove toxic

More U.S. teens now vape from electronic cigarettes than smoke conventional tobacco cigarettes. They may think the high-tech devices yield a safe kick from nicotine. New studies suggest that even vaping may pose serious health hazards.

More U.S. teens now vape from electronic cigarettes than smoke conventional tobacco cigarettes. They may think the high-tech devices yield a safe kick from nicotine. But new studies suggest that even vaping may pose health hazards.

You’ve seen them on television, in celebrity photos and in magazine ads — cool superstars vaping on electronic cigarettes. Their high-tech gadgets seem to be available everywhere, from shopping malls to the 24-hour convenience mart. Is it any wonder that teens are being tempted to try out the vaping craze?

Yet scientists are disturbed by the fascination teens have with this nicotine-dispensing alternative to smoking. And with good reason. Data from a growing number of studies indicate that electronic cigarettes are not harmless.

Chemicals in e-cigarettes can damage lung tissue, provoking inflammation. That damage can reduce the ability of the lungs to keep out germs and other harmful substances, new studies show.

Evidence of vaping’s growing appeal can be seen everywhere — from urban storefronts (as here) to kiosks in suburban shopping malls.

Yet teens seem largely unaware of — or unconcerned by — the emerging data on these risks. Their use of e-cigarettes has now surpassed that of conventional cigarettes. In the past year alone, e-cigarette use by U.S. middle-school and high-school teens has tripled. That’s the finding of a new government survey released last month.Mitch Zeller directs the Center for Tobacco Products in Silver Spring, Md. It’s part of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “I can say definitively,” Zeller says, “that nicotine is harmful to the developing teenage brain. And no teenager, no young person, should be using any tobacco or nicotine-containing products.” These include e-cigarettes, he adds.

Smokeless nicotine

Unlike true cigarettes, electronic cigarettes do not burn tobacco. They don’t burn anything. Instead, they turn a flavored liquid into a vapor. Users inhale, or vape, the mist. The liquid usually contains nicotine. That is a highly addictive substance naturally found in tobacco.

It’s presence in vaping liquids is no accident. E-cigarettes were designed to help tobacco addicts wean themselves off of smoking. Cigarette users become addicted to tobacco’s nicotine, a natural stimulant. But smoking also exposes their lungs to tar and other pollutants. E-cigarettes allow users to inhale the nicotine without those other substances.

Electronic cigarettes may be smoke-free, but they do contain chemicals that may cause changes in the lung that could affect a vaper’s susceptibility to infection. Among those chemicals: nicotine.

Yet nicotine is more than addictive. It can actually harm the lungs, a new study finds.Researchers tested the effects of nicotine on lung tissue growing in a lab dish. Those lung cells were exposed to nicotine alone, in cigarette smoke and in e-cigarette vapors. Follow-up tests exposed lab animals to these same substances.

Nicotine caused inflammation in lung tissue. It also reduced that tissue’s ability to serve as a barrier to foreign substances, the researchers found. Irina Petrache is a doctor and lung specialist at Indiana University in Indianapolis. She headed the research team. Her group showed for the first time that nicotine, whatever its source, can harm lung tissue. So in this respect, her team now concludes, vaping would be no better for the lungs than cigarette smoking.

But even an e-cigarette liquid having no nicotine disrupted the barrier function of lung cells, the team found. They don’t know why. But this is unexpected and disturbing, Petrache’s team says. The scientists suspect it may have to do with solvents and other potentially toxic materials. These chemicals are present in the flavored liquids that are inhaled through e-cigarettes.

Petrache and her colleagues shared their new findings May 26 in the American Journal of Physiology — Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology.

More evidence of harm

Scientists also have collected evidence of e-cigarette lung impacts from a small number of people. Onestudy of 25 people, for instance, found that smoking cigarettes and vaping had the same short-term effects on the lungs. Both created signs of inflammation and lung damage. Scientists reported the findings in the July 1, 2014 issue of Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology.

Far more tests of vaping have taken place in animals or dishes of cells. These studies add to the growing body of evidence of harm that e-cigarettes and their flavorings may cause.

Recently, scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill exposed human lung cells to 13 e-cigarette flavorings. Exposures lasted either 30 minutes or a full day. Five of the flavorings — hot cinnamon candies, banana pudding, kola, vanilla and menthol tobacco — affected the cells. Sometimes the treated cells no longer could replicate (reproduce) at normal rates. At high doses, these flavorings even killed the cells.

Most vaping-products companies want people to link their flavors closely to popular, brand-named food and flavors, including soft drinks. One vape-products website promises that: “This vape is so authentic to your favorite soda pop that you’ll think you’re sipping it from a straw rather than your electronic cigarette,” notes the Stanford Research into the Impact of Tobacco Advertising.

Temperance Rowell and her co-authors presented their findings on May 18 in Denver, Colo., at a meeting of the American Thoracic Society. (Members of this society focus on understanding, preventing and treating lung diseases.)At the same meeting last year, Laura Crotty Alexander showed vaping can make it harder for the body to kill germs. Crotty Alexander is a lung specialist and scientist. She works with the Veterans Administration San Diego Healthcare System.

Crotty Alexander studied Staphylococcus aureusbacteria. Unchecked, these germs can cause pneumonia. In bad cases, they can kill. Luckily, the human body makes a material that normally can kill these bacteria.

In the lab, she exposed the bacteria to e-cigarette vapors. The idea was to create conditions like ones the germs might find in the lungs of someone who vaped. The germs responded by covering themselves with a heavier biofilm coating than normal. This gave them an extra-thick layer of protection.

Crotty Alexander then allowed mice to breathe in air containing these vaping-exposed germs. By the next day, the mice had three times as many of these germs in their lungs as did mice that had been exposed to normal Staph bacteria. Clearly, mice did not do well at fighting off the germs exposed to e-cigarette vapors.

“E-cigarettes are definitely not benign,” or harmless, Crotty Alexander concluded.

Inflamed lungs with an impaired barrier might help explain why there had been more germs inhabiting the lungs. If true, that also might explain related data that emerged earlier this year.

In that study, mice inhaled e-cigarette vapors for two weeks. Their lungs showed signs of inflammation. Later, these animals were exposed either to Staphylococcus or to flu virus. Mice with inflamed lungs were less able to fight off infection than were mice that had not vaped. Some vaping mice even died from the flu. All nonvaping mice survived.

Additional concerns

Vaping liquids contain solvents to help flavorings dissolve into them. When heated in an e-cigarette, at least one commonly used solvent transformed into something worrisome: carbonyls (Kar-boh-NEELS), a 2014 study showed. These carbonyls included formaldehyde and other compounds that are known or suspected of causing cancer.

Other ingredients in vaping liquids also have been linked to harm. At high doses, nicotine can kill people. And the potential for accidental nicotine poisonings may be quite high around e-cigarettes. That’s the conclusion of Jennifer Cameron of the College of Nursing at Washington State University in Spokane and her colleagues.

Some e-cigarette makers have designed their products to resemble tobacco cigarettes, and compare their nicotine delivery to conventional cigarettes. In fact, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration describes e-cigarettes as “electronic nicotine delivery systems,” or ENDS.

Nicotine can be absorbed in the gut or through the skin. As little as 30 to 60 milligrams (0.001 to 0.002 ounce) of nicotine can kill an adult. A mere 10 mg may kill a child. In its new study, Cameron’s team showed that a small vial of e-cigarette liquid can contain 100 mg of nicotine. (How much a vial contained was not always reported accurately on a product’s label.) If a child or adult consumed much of what was in a vial, they could die, the team concluded. Their findings appear in the January 2014 issue of Tobacco Control.In fact, there are few rules about what manufacturers can put into vaping fluids. Some companies label their flavored liquids as being “food grade.” Others describe those flavorings as “generally recognized as safe” for foods and drinks. However, something that may be safely eaten or drunk might be “quite unsafe when inhaled,” notes James Pankow’s team at Portland State University in Oregon.

Pankow headed a team of chemists and engineers who analyzed the flavorings and other chemicals in 30 e-cigarette solutions. Flavoring agents made up a relatively large share of the liquids, they found. Several of the chemicals, such as benzaldehyde (Benz-AL-duh-hide) can irritate the lungs. They published their findings online April 15 in Tobacco Control.

Pankow’s team warns that it could look at only a small portion of the e-cigarette liquids now available. As of January 2014, it notes, there were “an astonishing 7,764 unique flavor names” for these solutions on sale. And the researchers cite data indicating that the number of new flavors continues to grow at a rate of roughly 240 a month.

More U.S. teens move to e-cigarettes

In recent years, teens have been moving away from smoking cigarettes and cigars. That’s according to new data from the latest annual National Youth Tobacco Surveys. These are jointly sponsored by two U.S. health agencies, the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Results of the latest round of these surveys “are astounding and concerning,” Zeller of the FDA reported on April 16. (Part of his announcement of the survey’s findings can be heard in the video at right.) Cigarette and cigar use has been falling over the past decade. But that “good news is now being threatened by the bad news of this dramatic increase in the use of e-cigarettes,” he said.

In fact, the new surveys showed that by 2014, e-cigarettes had become the most commonly used tobacco product by middle- and high-school students. (It’s called a “tobacco” product because its nicotine comes from tobacco.)

This new trend, Zeller says, “should raise alarm bells for parents and educators.”

Nor should toxicity data be ignored by teens, warns Garry Sigman. He is head of adolescent medicine at the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. It’s in Maywood, Ill.

Vaping has become big business. Sales of supplies is now a multi-billion-dollar industry in the United States alone. And what to vape — and how — offers users lots of choices. As of 2014, there were already an estimated 466 brands available, offering more than 7,500 different flavored liquids to use in those devices.

Nicotine is one of the most addictive substances available to teens, he told Science News for Students. “With only a few inhales it can create an addiction,” he says. When exposure occurs as the adolescent brain is still developing, there is a concern that the risk of addiction will be heightened, he says.“But while addiction is our main concern, we also have other health concerns,” he notes. For instance, some liquids used in e-cigarettes have been shown to contain heavy metals, silicates and other materials. These might be toxic to the lungs. And because no government agency currently regulates vaping fluids, he says, the safety of these flavored liquids have not been well studied.

The FDA acknowledges that many questions about the safety of e-cigarettes remain. But with what’s already known, Zeller concludes, “The striking increase in middle school and high school use of e-cigarettes . . . is really a public health emergency.”

Power Words

(for more about Power Words, click here)

addiction  The uncontrolled use of a habit-forming drug or uncontrolled and unhealthy habit (such as video game playing or phone texting). It results from an illness triggered by brain changes that occur after using some drugs or engaging in some extremely pleasurable activities. People with an addiction will feel a compelling need to use a drug (which can be alcohol, the nicotine in tobacco, a prescription drug or an illegal chemical such as cocaine or heroin), even when the user knows that doing so risks severe health or legal consequences. (For instance, even though 35 million Americans try to quit smoking each year, fewer than 15 out of 100 succeed. Most begin smoking again within a week, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.)

adolescence     A transitional stage of physical and psychological development that begins at the onset of puberty, typically between the ages of 11 and 13, and ends with adulthood.

bacterium (plural bacteria)  A single-celled organism. These dwell nearly everywhere on Earth, from the bottom of the sea to inside animals.

benign  Not harmful to one’s health.

biofilm  A gooey community of different types of microbes that essentially glues itself to some solid surface. Living in a biofilm is one way microbes protect themselves from stressful agents (such as poisons) in their environment.

cancer  Any of more than 100 different diseases, each characterized by the rapid, uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells. The development and growth of cancers, also known as malignancies, can lead to tumors, pain and death.

cell   The smallest structural and functional unit of an organism. Typically too small to see with the naked eye,it consists of watery fluid surrounded by a membrane or wall. Animals are made of anywhere from thousands to trillions of cells, depending on their size.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC  An agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC is charged with protecting public health and safety by working to control and prevent disease, injury and disabilities. It does this by investigating disease outbreaks, tracking exposures by Americans to infections and toxic chemicals, and regularly surveying diet and other habits among a representative cross-section of all Americans.

chemical      A substance formed from two or more atoms that unite (become bonded together) in a fixed proportion and structure. For example, water is a chemical made of two hydrogen atoms bonded to one oxygen atom. Its chemical symbol is H2O.

e-cigarette  (short for electronic cigarette) Battery-powered devices that disperse nicotine and other chemicals as tiny airborne particles that users can inhale. They were originally developed as a safer alternative to cigarettes that users could use as they tried to slowly break their addiction to the nicotine in tobacco products.

Food and Drug Administration  (or FDA) A part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, FDA is charged with overseeing the safety of many products. For instance, it is responsible for making sure drugs are properly labeled, safe and effective; that cosmetics and food supplements are safe and properly labeled; and that tobacco products are regulated.

formaldehyde    A widely used and toxic chemical that manufacturers add to plastics, resins, some fertilizers, dyes, medicines and embalming fluids. It’s even in the treatments used to keep fabrics from wrinkling.

germ  Any one-celled microorganism, such as a bacterium, fungal species or virus particle. Some germs cause disease. Others can promote the health of higher-order organisms, including birds and mammals. The health effects of most germs, however, remain unknown.

inflammation  The body’s response to cellular injury and obesity; it often involves swelling, redness, heat and pain. It is also an underlying feature responsible for the development and aggravation of many diseases, especially heart disease and diabetes.

influenza (or flu)  A highly contagious viral infection of the respiratory passages causing fever and severe aching. It often occurs as an epidemic.

nicotine  A colorless, oily chemical produced in tobacco and certain other plants. It creates the ‘buzz’ effect associated with smoking. It also is highly addictive, making it hard for smokers to give us their use of cigarettes. The chemical is also a poison, sometimes used as a pesticide to kill insects and even some invasive snakes or frogs.

pharmacology   The study of how chemicals work in the body, often as a way to design new drugs to treat disease.

physiology  The branch of biology that deals with the everyday functions of living organisms and how their parts function.

pneumonia  A lung disease in which infection by a virus or bacterium causes inflammation and tissue damage. Sometimes the lungs fill with fluid or mucus. Symptoms include fever, chills, cough and trouble breathing.

silicate  A mineral containing silicon atoms and usually oxygen atoms. The majority of Earth’s crust is made of silicate minerals.

solvent   A material (usually a liquid) used to dissolve some other material into a solution.

Staphylococcus aureus  (also known as staph) A species of bacteria that is responsible for a number of serious human infections. It can cause surface abscesses, or boils. If it gets into the bloodstream, where it can be carried throughout the body, it may also cause pneumonia and infections of the joints or bones.

tissue  Any of the distinct types of material, comprised of cells, which make up animals, plants or fungi. Cells within a tissue work as a unit to perform a particular function in living organisms. Different organs of the human body, for instance, often are made from many different types of tissues. And brain tissue will be very different from bone or heart tissue.

toxic  Poisonous or able to harm or kill cells, tissues or whole organisms. The measure of risk posed by such a poison is its toxicity. The branch of science that probes poisons and how they disrupt the health of people and other organisms is known as toxicology.

vaping  A new slang term for the use e-cigarettes, because these devices emit vapor, not smoke. People who do this are referred to as vapers.

vapors  Fumes released when a liquid transforms to a gas, usually as a result of heating.

virus  Tiny infectious particles consisting of RNA or DNA surrounded by protein. Viruses can reproduce only by injecting their genetic material into the cells of living creatures. Although scientists frequently refer to viruses as live or dead, in fact no virus is truly alive. It doesn’t eat like animals do, or make its own food the way plants do. It must hijack the cellular machinery of a living cell in order to survive.

E-cigarettes and vaping ‘may cause lung cancer like normal cigarettes’ .

After e-cigarettes started exploding mid puff, many suggested the benefits still outweighed the risks.

But now a new study suggests that the ‘healthier’ electronic cigarette alternative may not be as harmless for you after all.

Regular cigarettes contain nearly 600 additives, 69 of which are carcinogenic.

Unlike normal cigarettes which burn dried tobacco, e-cigarettes use a battery-powered device to heat a nicotine solution known as e-liquid.

This produces an aerosol that can be inhaled (vaping). Higher end e-cigarettes allow the heat temperature to be adjusted, which can intensify the nicotine hit.

A set of simple 'No Smoking' and 'E-Cigarettes Only' signs. No gradients or transparencies were used. bortonia/bortonia
A set of simple ‘No Smoking’ and ‘E-Cigarettes Only’ signs. (Picture: bortonia/bortonia)

As the e-liquid does not contain these carcinogenic additives it was believed the lung disease risk was minimal in comparison.

However, research by Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY, suggests the way particles are broken down in e-cigarettes may irritate lung tissue and cause disease.

Particles in tobacco-based cigarettes have a median size of 0.3 to 0.5 microns, but in e-cigarettes they are a lot smaller at 0.18 to 0.27 microns.

This means particles can travel deep within the lungs and embed themselves in the alveoli, the tiny air sacs in the lungs where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide takes place, causing damage.

This can happen with up to 40 per cent of the vapour particles, the study claims.

In addition to this, a previous study suggests when an e-cigarette voltage is increased from 3.2V to 4.8V it produces almost as much formaldehyde as a regular cigarette.

Small amounts of formaldehyde is produced as a normal byproduct of cell metabolism but in increased amounts, it is believed to be carcinogenic.

E-cigarettes have only been used in the last decade, so whether or not these studies are correct, what is clear is that the risks still have not been properly explored.

When you take your next puff, it is probably worth remembering that.

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