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New Developments On The Health Impacts Of Vaping

by Carmen McCrackin |  ❘ 

Recent Findings On E-Cigarette Use

In recent years, several studies have alluded to the potential harms of vape usage, but a recent landmark study found evidence that vaping can be as bad for your heart as traditional cigarettes. These findings cast significant doubt on the claim that e-cigarettes are “safer” than traditional cigarettes; a claim usually made by proponents of vaping as a smoking cessation tool. 

The Cardiac and Lung E-cig Smoking study (CLUES) observed 395 participants (164 long-term e-cigarette users, 117 long-term cigarette users, and 114 people who do not vape or smoke). Those who used e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes experienced greater increases in heart rate and blood pressure; however, regular vape users experienced worse measures of heart rate variability, a constricted brachial artery (which is the major blood vessel that supplies blood to the arms and hands), and have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Additionally, participants were put through an exercise stress test, and those who smoked or vaped performed significantly worse on all metrics. Compared to non-smokers, the participants’ heart rates took longer to recover after exercise, and their hearts had to work harder at peak levels.

Long-Standing Health Implications Of Vaping

While these recent studies highlight the direct impact vaping has on the heart, multiple past studies have illuminated the additional damage vaping can cause. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study reported how vaping could cause severe lung damage. As of February 2020, the CDC has reported that 2,800 e-cigarette users have required hospital admission due to e-cigarette product use-associated lung injury (EVALI), and 68 of these cases resulted in death. 

Additionally, multiple studies have revealed troubling links between e-cigarette use, Nicotine, and mental health. According to a 2019 JAMA study, current e-cigarette users have double the odds of receiving a diagnosis of depression compared to non-Nicotine users. Another study found that frequent e-cigarette use is associated with higher levels of depressive and ADHD symptoms. Moreover, Nicotine use is associated with more significant anxiety symptoms. Overall, multiple studies over the past several years have provided quantifiable data on the adverse effects of vaping on individuals’ mental, lung, and heart health.

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How Addictive Is Vaping?

According to the CDC, approximately 8.1 million Americans currently use e-cigarettes, which contain the highly addictive substance Nicotine. Many who use Nicotine products develop a physical dependence, which involves physical and psychological factors that make it challenging to cease using them. Within minutes of breathing in the Nicotine vapors from an e-cigarette, the brain releases dopamine, which is a chemical that plays a part in pleasure, motivation, and learning. Over time, the brain craves the feeling elicited from the dopamine release, thus leading to more Nicotine use which can lead to Nicotine addiction.

Nicotine use is pervasive in the US, so it can be difficult to notice when it has developed into an addiction. Some signs of Nicotine addiction include:

  • Withdrawal symptoms when one ceases Nicotine use
  • An ability to stop using Nicotine products
  • A desire to keep using Nicotine products despite adverse consequences
  • Requiring more Nicotine to feel “satisfied” 
  • Experiencing cravings and intense urges to use tobacco.

Who Is Most Affected By The Adverse Health Effects Of Vaping?

While anyone can face adverse health consequences because of vaping, specific communities face additional health risks. For example, e-cigarette use or any Nicotine product use is especially dangerous for pregnant women and their developing babies. Nicotine can expose the mother and child to toxic chemicals, and it can damage a developing baby’s brain and lungs. 

The term “epidemic” has been used in reference to vaping amongst young people, and with over 2 million middle and high schoolers using e-cigarettes daily, it’s hard not to. Youths are particularly susceptible to the harms of vaping as their brains and bodies are still developing. Nicotine can harm a young person’s memory and ability to concentrate, alter their brain development, and lessen their ability to control their impulses. Additionally, teens who vape are 3 times more likely to smoke cigarettes than their peers who have never smoked. 

Quitting E-Cigarettes 

It is common for those trying to quit Nicotine products, like e-cigarettes, traditional cigarettes, and chewing tobacco, to try multiple times before it sticks. Attempting to stop e-cigarettes multiple times could lead to feelings of discouragement, but recovery is possible and can improve one’s quality of life. Quitting Nicotine products can directly reduce health-related risks associated with the use and improve mental health symptoms, and treatment is available. 

Therapy for smoking cessation is a tool that many people find useful. Licensed therapist can help with setting goals and supporting cessation. Get matched with a therapist today to get started.

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Author

Carmen McCrackin

Photo of Carmen McCrackin
  • Carmen McCrackin earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Auburn and has over 3 years of professional writing experience. Her passion for writing and educating others led her to a career in journalism with a focus on mental health and social justice topics. Her main mission is to be a platform for all voices and stories, and to provide tangible resources to those seeking recovery for themselves or loved ones.

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