Once touted as a safer alternative to smoking, recent news reports have uncovered vaping as a cause of severe and life-threatening lung conditions.
We wondered if research existed describing vaping’s effects on the body…and not surprisingly, we found some.
According to a 2017 Science Daily article, the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists encouraged vapers to join smokers in the Great American Smoke Out. Two years ago, they realized vaping increases the risk of complications during and after surgery.
Why did it take so long for the research to reach the mainstream media?
That’s a fair question.
Approximately 5 years ago, Boston University offered an answer along with an explanation of the potential risks in a story titled “Behind the Vapor.”
The article cites the World Health Organization’s concern about an epidemic of Electronic or e-cigarette use among younger users.
With the increasing social distaste of smoking, the smoke-less vapor of e-cigarettes made them attractive to people addicted to traditional tobacco. The absence of the foul-smelling second-hand smoke took away some of the social stigmas. Smokers no longer felt like social outcasts.
The sweet, fruity flavors also made vaping attractive to the younger crowd.
Many people believed e-cigarettes were a “safer” alternative.
Reports showed e-cigarettes had fewer than the 7,000 chemicals found in traditional cigarettes.
But, “safer” doesn’t mean “safe.”
Since the studies were small and the marketing was strong, vaping became very popular. The “cool” new candy-flavored delivery of nicotine and other harmful chemicals was just as addictive as traditional tobacco.
A September 2019 BBC News report estimates the number of adults using vaping products exploded from 7 million in 2011 to over 41 million in 2018. CNBC delivers the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s staggering statistic that 27.5 percent of high school students are vaping; that’s more than one in four high school students that admit to vaping.
Vaping is a billion-dollar unregulated industry. Add in a few people who “recycle” vaping cartridges with their own blends, and you have a prescription for disaster.
How do e-cigarettes work?
Electronic cigarettes are handheld, battery-operated vaporizers with flavored liquid cartridges. As the battery heats the liquid, vapor is delivered through the mouthpiece. Users inhale the vapor and deliver nicotine and other chemicals into their lungs and bloodstream. Unfortunately, inhaling the nicotine as a vapor has the same effect on the body as it does when it’s inhaled as smoke.
There may be an added unknown risk.
Since vaping products are not regulated, manufacturers or vaping bootleggers can add anything to the vaping liquid. In recent months, some of these added chemicals have been reported to cause life-threatening health issues and death.
Vaping also affects orthopedic surgical procedures.
Vaping liquid decreases bone cells’ ability to live.
The College of Idaho conducted preliminary tests on bone cells in 2015 to see what effect vaping had on them. They set up a vaping machine to expose the cells to the vapor. After hearing children were drinking the liquid, they also administered liquid directly on the cells. In both instances, vaping liquid—in vapor or liquid forms—decreased the cells’ ability to live.
Vaping impacts the skin’s ability to heal.
Frederic Deleyiannis, MD, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon with the University of Colorado School of Medicine, wondered what impact e-cigarettes would have on the healing of a skin-flap grafting procedure.
To find the answer, he collaborated with researchers and presented the findings of the study in 2016. E-cigarettes slowed healing and caused the death of the grafted skin cells. During the study, he also found vaping caused the same lung conditions associated with traditional tobacco use.
E-cigarette vapor contains nicotine.
We know how nicotine affects the body and interferes with healing; it:
• Slows blood flow
• Lowers oxygen levels necessary for health, healing, and bone fusion
• Reduces the spinal discs ability to hold water and cushion the spinal column
• Stunts the development of new bone
• Causes bone to lose minerals and density
• Creates complications during anesthesia
• Lowers the effectiveness of some medications
• Raises blood pressure
• Increases adrenaline and heart rate
• Is highly addictive
Those are the known facts of one of e-cigarettes chemicals. There are many flavorings and other chemicals in e-cigarettes that are not identified or regulated that can cause greater harm.
Vaping is as harmful to the body as smoking traditional tobacco.
If you smoke or vape, try to quit. It’s hard. But each time you try, you’re one step closer to quitting for good.
If you smoke and need a surgical procedure, your orthopedic surgeon may recommend that you stop smoking for a few weeks before and after your surgery.
If you experience a fracture or a soft-tissue injury, your orthopedic or sports medicine specialist may encourage you to stop smoking so your body can heal.
You don’t have to quit alone. There are many resources like smokefree.gov that can help or provide more information.