Key Questions You Should Ask Regarding Vaping and Cancer

E-cigarettes were promoted as safer than cigarette smoking when they entered the market. But they don’t come without their health risks, including addiction. Plus, vapor from these devices contains chemicals that increase cancer risk. There’s also evidence that vaping can cause acute lung injury and interfere with brain development in young people. It’s no wonder that lung doctors are concerned.

Does Vaping Increase Your Risk of Lung Cancer?

While it’s too early to know if vaping increases cancer risk, smoking is linked to lung problems. Around 80% of all lung cancer deaths are caused by combined passive smoking and tobacco use. But how does vaping cause cancer?  When you smoke, you inhale burning tar and other harmful chemicals from the burned tobacco, known as smoke. On the other hand, vaping involves a device (often called a vape pen or mod) heating e-liquid until it turns into a vapor you inhale. That liquid can contain various flavors and chemicals, including volatile organic compounds that may harm your lungs. Bronchitis obliterans, sometimes known as “popcorn lung,” is a lung ailment that flavoring compounds, particularly diacetyl, can bring on.

Nicotine can also hurt your lungs. It raises your blood pressure and boosts your adrenaline, which can interfere with your lungs’ ability to absorb oxygen. It can lead to irritated and inflamed lungs, lung disease and chronic coughing. Smoking and vaping can also increase your chances of getting a collapsed lung, known as primary spontaneous pneumothorax. A hole in the lungs forms when air blisters or blebs at the top of the lungs burst. The blebs can be damaged by activities like scuba diving, flying or smoking, and they can also develop in tall and thin people because of rapid growth during adolescence.

Does Vaping Increase Your Risk of Oral Cancer?

Vaping involves using a battery-powered e-cigarette device that heats the liquid to create a vapor you inhale. The fluids used in vaping (called e-liquid or vape juice) often contain nicotine, and they can also include flavorings such as menthol, fruit, coffee, mint, and strawberry. Carcinogens such as propylene oxide, acrylamide, formaldehyde, and nitrosamines are present in the vapor produced by these devices, and heavy metals, including nickel, tin, silver, aluminum, and mercury, may also be present. It’s too early to know if long-term vaping use increases your risk for cancer, but research has shown that the vapor can cause lung damage, including DNA strand breaks and gene dysregulation. It’s also been linked to a chronic coughing condition called bronchiolitis obliterans, which causes scarring of the lungs. And a chemical in some flavored vaping products, such as butter or popcorn flavors, has been known to cause a deadly disease called EVALI, similar to tobacco-caused COVID-19 infections.

In addition, vapor from e-cigarettes can affect your heart and brain. Nicotine can hurt brain development, raise blood pressure, and narrow arteries. Plus, the chemicals in vapor, like oxidized polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, can lead to respiratory disease and cause a cough that feels like a cold. Additionally, battery-powered e-cigarettes have been known to explode, which has resulted in fatalities and serious injuries.

Does Vaping Increase Your Risk of Pancreatic Cancer?

When e-cigarettes were introduced to the market, they were touted as an effective way to quit smoking. Although they have helped some smokers kick the habit, they haven’t proven safe. E-cigarette vapor contains nicotine, a toxic and addictive stimulant that triggers cravings and leads to withdrawal symptoms when use is discontinued. Nicotine raises blood pressure and causes the release of adrenaline, which can cause heart attacks and other cardiovascular issues. It increases your risk for heart disease. It may also cause nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Inhaling vapor containing other chemicals in e-cigarette liquids can cause lung damage, including irritated and narrowed airways, chronic inflammation, decreased lung function, difficulty breathing and respiratory infections.

One of the most serious lung illnesses vaping can cause is EVALI, or e-cigarette-associated lung injury, which can be fatal. In 2019, EVALI cases peaked, with thousands of patients reporting serious lung injuries. CDC researchers have identified vitamin E acetate, a thickening agent added to some THC-containing e-liquids, as the probable cause of these injuries.

It is challenging to determine whether vaping impacts a person’s long-term health due to a lack of long-term research and the fact that most vapers are young. It’s likely to take a generation before scientists fully understand how vaping affects the body.

Does Vaping Increase Your Risk of Breast Cancer?

Researchers’ findings that e-cigarette vapor promotes cancer development and can disseminate the disease throughout the body have disastrous effects on the vaping industry. Breast cancer tumors developed almost twice as fast in mice exposed to e-cigarette vapor. The tumors also spread to the lungs more quickly. The e-cigarette vapor contains poisonous metals and carcinogens, including volatile chemicals like acetone, which can cause skin and eye irritation when inhaled. It also contains nicotine, which is linked to health issues, such as lung disease and heart disease, and can damage the brain and nervous system. Vaping can also harm your lungs and lead to serious diseases, such as bronchiolitis obliterans (popcorn lung), which causes permanent lung scarring. Diacetyl (butter/popcorn taste), in particular, is one of the flavoring agents used in e-liquid known to contribute to this condition, which has led to thousands of hospitalizations and fatalities in the US alone. Short-term vaping can also lead to respiratory symptoms, such as coughing and shortness of breath, which can be serious. It can also worsen existing lung conditions, such as asthma, and increase your risk of developing new lung disease.

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