Vaping is making significant strides in popularity thanks to the ease and availability of e-cigarettes. In fact, the Oxford Dictionary even declared "Vape" as its word of the year. But there are some health care professionals who believe that while vaping is considered to be less harmful than traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes bring their own health concerns to the table. A study by the Japanese Ministry of Health found just that, reported Psych Central.
The news source noted the trend of e-cigs is still new enough that extensive research has not been done. However, studies like this are emerging and begging the question, "Is smoking e-cigarettes really safer?"
Instead of paper and dry tobacco, e-cigarettes make use of heating liquid when a person breathes it in. This heat vaporizes the liquid and creates additional chemicals from the reaction. These chemicals could pose a problem.
Thomas J. Glynn, former director of cancer science and trends at the American Cancer Society, took part in an interview with Here & Now regarding the Japanese study and his overall opinions. Specifically, he agreed with the fact that these additional chemicals posed just as great of a threat as traditional cigarettes. It is still unknown just how many chemicals are involved, as the U.S. alone has over 450 different kinds of e-cigarettes for sale, and the industry is still new.
"What the study does is it adds yet another piece to the very complex e-cigarette puzzle, and it's more confirmatory than it is groundbreaking," Glynn said. "This is a good team in Japan that did this study. But we do know that when the e-cigarette liquid is heated, some carcinogens - things that cause cancer - are created. The question is, how much and how many?"
Popular Science noted the dangers of e-cigarettes come from new chemicals such as formaldehyde being introduced into bodies. However, the source reported the Japanese study - while announcing the results - didn't reveal the actual document. Instead, the authors of the study gave the results directly to the Health Ministry. Even so, the source stated the specific findings of the Japanese study are less important than the fact the conversation is going on.
Previous studies have focused on the addictive nature of e-cigarettes and how less nicotine means the reliance on the product isn't the same as traditional cigarettes. Professor Jonathan Foulds, professor of public health at the College of Medicine at Pennsylvania State University, led a study to find if e-cigarettes will help smokers quit, according to Medical News Today.
The study consisted of an online survey administered to over 3,600 former smokers and involved 158 questions. The findings revealed participants had lower dependence on e-cigarettes. However, the results varied, as different e-cigarettes make use of different nicotine concentrations. Those who used devices with higher amounts and smoked more regularly felt a similar dependence to traditional cigarettes.
But while Foulds felt hopeful that these devices could aid those trying to quit, he also worried about the chemicals involved and how the extended use would affect people's health in the long run.
"This is a new class of products that's not yet regulated," Foulds said. "It has the potential to do good and help a lot of people quit, but it also has the potential to do harm. Continuing to smoke and use e-cigarettes may not reduce health risks. Kids who have never smoked might begin nicotine addiction with e-cigarettes. There's a need for a better understanding of these products."
Young people smoking
The rise of young smokers has added to the growing concern about the use of e-cigarettes. According to USA Today, 40 states prohibit e-cigarettes from being sold to minors. However, this still leaves 16 million kids younger than 18 who live in states where they can purchase e-cigarettes legally. Not to mention, they are for sale online.