Do electronic cigarettes produce adverse health effects?

vaping 2019

(Nery Zarate, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Roberto Antonio Vásquez Morel, a fifth-year medical student at the Universidad Nacional Pedro Henríquez Ureña (UNPHU), in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


Electronic cigarettes, also known as vaping or the electronic nicotine delivery system, are smoking devices that typically contain flavored nicotine and other chemicals. There are more than 460 electronic cigarette devices on the market, and each year they become more popular.1

The use of these types of cigarettes has increased over the past five years becoming a public health concern. The teens and young adults’ population are being affected developing future potential health risks. This prevalence is due because it is more attractive, easier to use, portable and less harm to health. According to the survey of the US Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the use of e-cigarettes among high school and middle school students have increased 78% and 48% during the period of 2017-2018 respectively.2 In order to dispel myths about the effects of electronic cigarettes, there is a need to create awareness of its adverse health effects and promote cessation of this toxic behavior.

First, electronic cigarettes have nicotine, which is the same component in normal tobacco. Nicotine is a chemical addictive that cause people to smoke repeatedly. Once it is inhaled in just one smoke, it is readily absorbed in the lungs, travels in the circulatory system to reach the adrenal glands and activates epinephrine for release in the bloodstream. This epinephrine hormone stimulates the central nervous system that activates the brain’s reward circuits and increases the level of dopamine. It also increases blood pressure, respiratory rate, and cardiac frequency.1

Moreover, electronic cigarettes also contain other dangerous chemicals, such as acetaldehyde, acrolein, and formaldehyde, which can cause acute lung injury, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, lung cancer, and cardiovascular diseases.3 There are more negative attributes to the use of these new cigarette devices since they can cause more damage than  normal tobacco use. Unfortunately, the population that uses these devices are increasing without having the knowledge of these harmful health effects. This is an important concern to take care because is making the youth population more additive and its side effects are damaging the brain development which is crucial in this stage of life.

The side effects of these different components can have long lasting effects. The constant use can lead to a bad prognostic, with little probability of restoration to optimum health. Therefore, the previous disseminated information that stated “e-vaporizers are safe to health” is genuinely incorrect. As health professionals, we need to educate our patients on evidence-based health information to better inform our patients and their health decision-making.

In summary, both electronic cigarettes and traditional tobacco cigarettes can produce harmful health effects. The toxins and carcinogenic substances from electronic cigarettes that are inhaled in one smoke can damage numerous organ systems. By knowing the side effects, we can build a solid global consciousness that will reduce present and future use of the electronic nicotine delivery system and reduce morbidity and mortality associated with this toxic behavior. This is what we need to have in mind as future health promoters because the key of medicine is not to treat diseases but to prevent it.

References

  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Electronic cigarettes (eE-cigarettes) [internet]. 2018 [cited 2019 Apr 22]. Available at: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/electronic-cigarettes-e-cigarettes
  2. Simon S. FDA proposes regulations as teen e-cigarette use skyrockets 78% in 1 year [internet]. 2019 [cited 2019 Apr 24]. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/fda-proposes-regulations-as-teen-e-cigarette-use-skyrockets-78-percent-in-1-year.html
  3. American Lung Association. (2019). E-cigarettes and lung health [internet]. 2019 [cited 2019 Apr 22]. Available at: https://www.lung.org/stop-smoking/smoking-facts/e-cigarettes-and-lung-health.html

About the author

Roberto Antonio Vásquez Morel is a fifth-year medical student at the Universidad Nacional Pedro Henríquez Ureña (UNPHU), in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He is a current member of the Standing Committee on Research Exchange (SCORE) and the social network coordinator of the Publication Support Division of ODEM (IFMSA-Dominican Republic).

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Comments

  1. Roberto should not start his career by writing articles about things he is clueless about.
    Better delete this silly skim of “article”. Its harmful.

  2. From memory this is the 2nd such article from a medical student in the last 7 days to be published here. Once again it represents a very shallow knowledge of the subject that has been extensively covered by such august bodies as the Royal College of Physicians who conclude ” Promote e-cigarettes widely as substitute for smoking says new RCP report” – Google it !

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