Vaping and Emphysema
Vaping Story is Still Blurry
If compared to smoking, vaping is a very young “activity”, born in 1963 when a man called Herbert Gilbert filled the first electronic cigarette patent. In 2003, thanks to a researcher from China – Hon Lik, e-cigarettes gained their popular modern-day look.
Ever since, vaping has become very popular all around the world, with an increasing number of enjoyers and vaping culture followers. This isn’t surprising at all, since it seems like people have finally started to take doctor’s advice more seriously when it comes to smoking.
The number of research which deals with this topic is still insufficient, but increasing. Since vaping involves inhaling and exhaling foreign substances, respiratory system may suffer. Emphysema is just one of the health risks associated with vaping.
What is Emphysema?
Emphysema is one of many diseases commonly known as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). This health condition affects tiniest air sacs in the lungs – alveoli. The walls of these sacs suffer damage and rupture, thus creating larger air sacs and reducing the amount of oxygen that enters the bloodstream. Simply put, the alveoli do not function properly and there is no space for fresh air rich in oxygen. Individuals who suffer from emphysema experience shortness of breath, as well as constant coughing.
Can Vaping Cause Emphysema?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a significant number of research that investigates this topic. However, emphysema falls into the category of COPD, and a connection between vaping and COPD has been detected. The conclusion of vaping as a potential emphysema cause imposes itself.
E-cigarettes and other vaping devices haven’t been completely and thoroughly evaluated by researchers and doctors. What we do know is that while vaping, you are inhaling water vapor along with a mixture of different chemicals, whose health effects are still blurry. It is safe to say inhaling anything but air can have a detrimental impact in the airways and may cause conditions like emphysema.
There are various types of dry herbs used for vaping, but propylene glycol (PG) and vegetable glycerin (VG) are one of the ingredients in almost any e-liquid and their effect on health is debated. Mild airway irritation and inflammation are often quoted as a potential consequence of these chemicals use. On the other hand, they are both being used in medical inhalers because of being generally safe.
What we also know for a fact is that most of them contain nicotine, which is a vasoconstrictor. This means nicotine has the potential to make the arteries in the body smaller, thus creating a problem for the heart to pump the blood through the blood vessels.
Is There Any Research?
A study presented during the European Society congress in Munich in 2014, announced that e-cigarettes use may cause asthma and emphysema. While conducting this research, scientists used several groups of rodents and exposed them to e-liquid. This study made a breakthrough and showed that e-cigarette exposure may cause asthma and emphysema in vivo.
Further on, researchers in Estonia suggested that e-cigarettes use can cause changes in the lung cells, similar to those caused by smoking.
Researchers at Central Michigan University College of Medicine focused on further investigation of vaping and emphysema relation. An associate professor of molecular and cell biology, Dr. Neeraj Vij, and his team used human cells from the bronchial epithelium and live mice to test this postulate.
The results were not favorable towards vaping. Even minimal, one hour exposure of cells to e-cigarette vapor significantly affected the proteins in the cells. This impact caused all kinds of inflammatory signaling mechanisms or apoptosis – programmed cell death.
There isn’t a 100% accurate answer on whether emphysema can develop as a consequence of vaping. The Bottom line is that vaping, as well as smoking, has its own set of health risks. Vaping has its own toxicity, so the smartest decision would be not to start at all. If you are interested in this topic, find out something on common myths about vaping here.