If you’re a smoker, then you know the damage that a cigarette can do to your lungs. A 2014 study found that smoking “causes oxidative stress and inflammation in the lung, which has been linked to the development and progression of COPD.”
Smoking is also linked to other lung conditions, including asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis.
But it’s not just smoking that can cause harm to your lungs. “Vaping, which is the heating of cigarettes up to 10 to 12 times hotter than normal, can also damage your lungs,” says Dr. Dweck. “The American Thoracic Society (ATS) and the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP) have both concluded that vaping is a health hazard for people who already have breathing problems.”
To date, it’s still unclear how or if vaping damages lungs. However, there is evidence that vaping causes lung inflammation, which can lead to damage to the lungs.
To protect your lungs, Dr. Dweck recommends quitting smoking. “If you’re a smoker and you have COPD, talk to your doctor about whether or not you should stop smoking,” she says. “In the meantime, I would be very cautious about starting vaping.”
4. You May Be At Risk For Lung Cancer
According to the American Lung Association, NSCLC accounts for 85 percent of lung cancer cases. It starts in the squamous cells that line the inside of the lungs and is the most common type of lung cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute.
According to the National Cancer Institute, small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is a slow-growing, aggressive cancer that forms in the cells lining the lungs’ airways. These cells make up about one-third of the lung’s cells.
Tobacco smoking is the leading cause of both types of lung cancer.
“If you’ve never smoked and you start now, you’re putting yourself at risk for developing lung cancer,” Dr. Dweck says. “The biggest risk factor, though, is smoking.”
In addition to using e-cigarettes to quit smoking, you can also lower your risk for developing lung cancer by:
- Eating a healthy and balanced diet
- Getting regular exercise
- Quitting smoking
5. You May Be At Risk For Heart Disease
People who smoke are at higher risk for heart disease, especially those who vape. As the American Heart Association (AHA) notes, “Smoking cessation has been shown to reduce risk for heart disease and the risk of death from heart disease.”
According to the AHA, a major risk factor for heart disease is a high-fat diet, which is a diet high in saturated fat and cholesterol.
“When you vape, you’re putting more nicotine in your body,” Dr. Dweck says. “That means you’re putting more fat in your body, and that means you’re putting more cholesterol into your body, which can lead to heart disease.”
6. You May Be At Risk For Type 2 Diabetes
Dr. Dweck says that while vaping is not as harmful as smoking, it can still cause diabetes. “The most prominent risk factor for diabetes is obesity,” she says. “When you vape, you’re putting more nicotine in your body, which causes your blood sugar to spike and then drop.”
According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), people who are obese are at risk for type 2 diabetes. “When you’re obese, your pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin, so your body doesn’t use glucose properly,” Dr. Dweck explains.
7. You May Be At Risk For Mental Health Problems
According to a 2014 study, vaping can cause several conditions, including:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
“When you vape, you’re putting more nicotine into your body, which can cause mental health problems like depression and anxiety,” Dr. Dweck says.
8. You May Be At Risk For Cancer
- Uterine cancer
- Breast cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Colon cancer
A 2020 study found that e-cigarette users had a higher risk for all-cause cancer mortality. However, the authors noted that smoking was still the underlying cause of death.
“We know that e-cigarettes are a potential cause of lung cancer, but we don’t know if vaping is a cause of death,” Dr. Dweck says. “The more you research, the more you see that it’s probably not the main cause of death, but it is one of the things that can cause death.”
9. You May Be More At Risk For Nicotine Addiction
Dr. Dweck notes that nicotine is the main reason why people start vaping. “There’s a lot of misinformation out there about the health effects of vaping and that’s understandable, but nicotine is the main reason people start vaping,” she says.
“There’s no harm coming from nicotine, but there’s a lot of harm that can be done by not quitting,” Dr. Dweck says. “If you’re trying to quit smoking, it helps to know that there’s a lot of nicotine in e-cigarettes, too.”
10. You May Be At Risk For Hypothyroidism
According to a 2018 study, people who vape have a higher risk for hypothyroidism. That’s the condition in which the thyroid gland doesn’t make enough hormones.
“There’s a lot of misinformation out there about the health effects of vaping and that’s understandable, but nicotine is the main reason people start vaping,” Dr. Dweck says.
11. You May Be At Risk For Dehydration
According to Dr. Dweck, it’s important to drink water while you’re vaping.
“We know that you need water to get nicotine out of your body, but it’s also important to drink water so you don’t dehydrate,” she says.
Drinking water helps to dilute the nicotine in your body. “If you don’t drink enough water, you’re going to get dehydrated because you’re getting more and more nicotine out of your body,” Dr. Dweck says.
As with any serious health condition, quitting smoking is a personal choice. Some people are able to quit by themselves, while others need help.
“If you quit smoking, you can actually see a reduction in heart disease risk,” Dr. Dweck says. “If you’re trying to get a quit rate of 80 to 90 percent, that’s not easy. It’s not going to happen overnight. But if you are helping yourself quit, it’s a lot harder
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