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Ask the Physician: Is Vaping Safe?

Young woman vaping outside

Jun. 18 2021

Vaping has grown in popularity with young people. But is it safe? Ryan A. Walters, MD, with Lexington Family Practice Lexington shares the facts on vaping. 

Q: What is vaping and is it dangerous?

A: Vaping is a term for the use of e-cigarettes. These devices heat a liquid into a vapor that the user inhales. They were originally intended to be used for smoking cessation, but they’ve become popular for recreational use, particularly in young people as a result of advertising, flavors, designs and absence of a smoky smell.

Chemicals in e-cigarettes include propylene glycol, glycerol, glycerin, flavorings, diethylene glycol, ethanol and formaldehyde. Some of the chemicals are considered toxic.

Hundreds of cases of severe lung disease are linked with e-cigarette use as well as cases of milder respiratory symptoms such as wheezing and coughs. Doctors have seen severe cases in people who modify their e-cigarettes or use e-liquids with added tetrahydrocannabinol. While e-cigarettes have not yet been definitively linked to lung cancer, long-term data isn’t available yet.

Most e-cigarettes contain highly addictive nicotine. In young people, nicotine can impact brain development by affecting cognitive abilities and attention. And research shows e-cigarette users are more likely to later begin using regular cigarettes.

Those who have children should talk to them about the risks of using e-cigarettes. For those who’ve never used e-cigarettes or tobacco products, don’t start as they are highly addictive. Current users should consider improving their health by kicking the habit. A health care provider can help.

Head shot of Dr. Walters
Ryan A. Walters, MD, Lexington Family Practice Lexington

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Disclaimer: This blog is intended for general understanding and education about Lexington Medical Center. Nothing on the blog should be considered or used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Blog visitors with personal health or medical questions should consult their health care provider.