Technology can be a savior and a menace, depending on the way you use it. Several technological innovations that were developed with a purpose to aid humans actually turn out to be detrimental if used in the wrong way. One such example is the e-cigarette. Devised to help smoking addicted lot kick the habit effectively, it has become a cause of concern in recent times.
What is actually an E-cigarette?
This is basically a small device powered by a battery that looks like a regular cigarette and lets you mimic a real life smoking experience minus the danger of inhaling nicotine. There is a chamber in the body that contains a flavored liquid, which is vaped by the user. Such an e-cigarette contains 3 parts- an inhaler cartridge, a battery and a vaporizer. Some models have a bulb at the end, which glows as the user smokes, thus mimicking real life cigar usage in the best possible way.
The popularity and spread
When e-cigarettes were invented and released in the market, they became popular quickly. With celebs endorsing such products and a section of medical community stressing its benefits, smokers embraced it. With time, technology used in making such products has advanced rapidly- offering the users several choices. The users can choose their favorite flavor for the e- liquid, for example. Newer e-cigarettes are lightweight and they resemble a cigar more closely.
Increased use of e-cigarettes
The increasing usage of e-cigarettes across various age groups and demographics has led to a number of health problems, as experts point out. Over the last decade, newer health issues caused by the rampant use of e-cigarettes have surfaced on the horizon. The wide availability of such products, both offline and online have fueled these.
Owing to factors like celebrity endorsements and availability of flavors that attract younger generations, consumption of e-cigarettes has shot up among teenagers across the world. In 2014, e-cigarettes overtook regular cigarettes as the most used tobacco product by school students, as per a US survey. The availability of flavors like cotton candy and bubble gum made the teens more interested in these products. The same trend has been observed in teens in other countries as well.
What the study findings reveal?
The health experts and study authors carrying out the research on the impact of using e- cigarettes have come up with some startling revelations.
- USFDA’s director of the Center for Tobacco Products Mitch Zeller says nicotine, used in any form can be harmful for deve111loping teenage brains. The e-liquids also contain nicotine. Just because it is not burnt directly does not mean its harmful effects are eliminated totally!
- Indiana University School of Medicine’s Irina Petrache and her colleagues have found through extensive studies carried out on animals, continuous exposure to e-liquid vapors cause oxidative stress. This leads to the development of inflammatory cells in the lungs. The findings indicate nicotine used in any form, even in liquid vapor can cause harm to lung tissues. More disturbing is the revelation that e-cigarette liquid sans nicotine can also affect lung cell’s barrier functions. However, compared to regular a cigar it takes more amount of vapor to cause a similar amount of damage. The study findings are listed in American Journal of Physiology online.
- University of Rochester Medical Center’s Irfan Rahman, a biochemist, said the inflammation of lung cells caused was a result of activated free radicals. The vaporizing activates the free radicals. Sadly, the nicotine-free type of e-liquid also creates a thick concentration of free radicals. It can have a long term effect on immunity. Vaping often leads to scratchy and dry throats in teens. Rahman thinks vaping is not as safe as it was thought earlier.
- A pulmonologist Laura Crotty Alexander associated with Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System says vaping makes it hard for the human body to kill germs. She experimented with mice and Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. It was seen that the bacteria adapts itself to shield from an e-cigarette vapour and its reproduction in the lungs go up substantially. In other tests mice exposed to a vaping exhibited deficiency in fighting the flu virus compared to other mice.
Risk of using e-cigarettes
Thus, contrary to what was thought earlier, e-cigarettes are not absolutely harmless in the long run. A number of studies conducted in recent year indicate that there can be serious consequences of vaping e liquids used in these products. The risks are summarized below:
- The chemicals used in these e-cigarettes can also prove to be addictive. If you use these products to stave off smoking, without realizing it you can become addicted to using the liquids.
- There is hardly any industry-accepted regulation for using additive, solvents and ingredients for the e-liquids used in these products. As a result, the manufacturers do not always resort to using safe ingredients for manufacturing liquid flavors. These can impact the human brain and lungs in particular.