Vaping refers to inhaling and exhaling aerosol — or vapor — produced by an electronic cigarette. E-cigarettes or similar devices are battery-powered and meant to mimic tobacco smoking (without actually burning tobacco).
Modern vaping, as we know it today, was born in 2003 when Chinese Inventor Hon Lik invented the e-cigarette. As vapers are inhaled, they heat up a liquid that is typically a mix of propylene glycol and/or vegetable glycerin which vaporizes then delivers drugs along with the user’s flavor of choice. (2)
Vape pens, e-cigarettes, and advanced personalized vaporizers (known as ‘MODS’, all fall into the category of a vaping product. (3) Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, the same addictive drug you’ll find in regular cigarettes and cigars, though the nicotine levels are not often listed correctly on product labels. (1)
As growing evidence suggests the dangers of these products — people are left to ask, can vaping cause lung cancer? Let’s take a closer look at the effects of vaping and what research shows about its risks.
The Effects of Vaping
Because e-cigarettes are still relatively new, there is ongoing research as to how they affect lung tissue and lung injury in those who utilize them. There have, however, been reports of serious lung disease in people who have used e-cigarettes or vaping mechanisms. Symptoms have included cough, trouble breathing, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, fever, and weight loss. Some of these cases have required hospitalization and in certain cases, individuals have died. (1)
In 2019, at least 37 people around America died and 1,888 people got sick after vaping nicotine, THC cannabis, or a combination of both. Federal investigators weren’t sure what caused the lung damage, though a former executive of JUUL stated that the company sold tainted Juul pods to customers. (2)
JUUL is a brand of e-cigarettes that are popular among kids, teenagers, and young adults. They contain nicotine and are known for giving off very little vapor or smell. The device resembles a USB flash drive and comes in flavors like crème brûlée, mango and fruit medley.(1,3)
The popular product JUUL, and other e-cigarettes, come with growing evidence that shows they may be dangerous and lead to increased risk to develop a respiratory disease due to the harmful chemicals. For this reason, health advocates now recommend exercising caution when using them. (3)
Vaping and Lung Cancer
Many people ask does vaping cause lung cancer — and the answer is that scientists are still researching the effects of e-cigarettes when used for prolonged periods of time. Keep in mind that although it is in lower amounts than regular cigarette smoke, the “vapor” from the e-cigarette still contains cancer-causing chemicals. (1)
Additionally, because the e-cigarette industry is largely unregulated at the federal level, it’s tough to pinpoint what’s in a vape. Chemicals like Vitamin E acetate might interfere with normal lung function. A study from NYU suggested that e-cigarettes could turn on cancer genes and promote tumor growth, though the research had only been done in mice rather than smokers thus far. (2)
Similarly, e-cigarettes can also expose people to secondhand aerosol or “vapor”, as tobacco smoke from conventional cigarettes does, which might contain harmful substances in the vaping liquid. Again, scientists are continuing to research the long term health effects on individuals who have been exposed to secondhand e-cigarette aerosol. (1)
Symptoms of Lung Cancer
Lung cancer is one of the most prevalent types of cancer in the world and accounts for more annual deaths than ovarian, prostate, and breast cancer combined. It’s the primary cause of cancer-related deaths in the country. There are different types of lung cancer as well.
However, lung cancer and its risk factors are better understood than some other forms of cancer, and if you catch it early on, you can progress with treatment.
If you’re wondering can you get lung cancer from vaping, and you are a person who vapes or has in the past, it’s important to be aware of symptoms.
Some of the common signs of lung cancer include a sudden and persistent lung cancer cough that does not go away. Shortness of breath is another symptom, as it can be caused by a tumor pressing against an airway. Chest pain can also be present as can coughing up blood.
Keep in mind that lung cancer or other lung illness might not show any symptoms at all until it has spread or advanced. The best way to move forward is to progress with a professional diagnosis.
Although the long term side effects of using a vaping device might take decades to fully understand, it is known that any tobacco product (like a traditional cigarette) can pose health risks to the user. Vaping, lung cancer, and the overall effects of nicotine are constantly being researched — and until further research is compiled, it’s a wise decision to head the warnings for risk and danger.
If you have any questions about vaping, lung cancer screening guidelines, or the treatment options we offer at Immunity Therapy Center, feel free to reach out today. Our dedicated team is here to help guide you toward a healthy and happy future.
- “What Do We Know About E-Cigarettes?” cancer.org, January 7, 2020, https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/tobacco-and-cancer/e-cigarettes.html. Accessed April 16, 2020.
- Brueck, Hilary. “The Wild History of Vaping.” insider.com, November 12, 2019, https://www.insider.com/history-of-vaping-who-invented-e-cigs-2019-10#at-least-a-quarter-of-teens-in-the-us-today-say-theyve-tried-vaping-while-about-6-of-high-schoolers-vape-regularly-1. Accessed April 16, 2020.
- Richter, Linda. “What is Vaping?” centeronaddiction.org, October 2018, https://www.centeronaddiction.org/e-cigarettes/recreational-vaping/what-vaping. Accessed April 16, 2020.
At Immunity Therapy Center, our goal is to provide objective, updated, and research-based information on all health-related topics. This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles. All information has been fact-checked and reviewed by Dr. Carlos Bautista, a Board Certified Medical Doctor at Immunity Therapy Center. All information published on the site must undergo an extensive review process to ensure accuracy. This article contains trusted sources with all references hyperlinked for the reader's visibility.