By Marygrace Taylor
To some, e-cigarettes are perceived as a safer alternative to their traditional counterparts, but their effect on breathing may not be entirely benign. Here’s what you need to know, plus the best way to protect your lungs.
Since e-cigarettes aren’t regulated, their safety or effectiveness remains unconfirmed by the FDA. However, research shows that smoking e-cigarettes can increase airway resistance, making it more difficult to breathe. They’re also associated with coughing, sore
And like their conventional counterparts, you don’t have to actually smoke e-cigarettes to experience their harmful effects. In a recent Tobacco Control study of 12 different e-cigarettes, their vapor was found to contain small amounts of potentially toxic and cancer-causing compounds. Those compounds can linger in the air like secondhand
If you’re relying on e-cigarettes to help you quit smoking, you unknowingly could be exposing yourself to more nicotine than you think, making it more difficult to kick the habit. In fact, e-cigarette nicotine concentrations can vary as much as 20 percent from the amounts listed on the label—even in some that are billed as nicotine-free, according to research from the Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
The safest course of action? Avoid exposure to e-cigarette vapor as you would cigarette smoke. “E-cigarette vapor is a substance that can irritate the lungs,” said Dr. Norman Edelman, senior medical adviser for the American Lung Association. And if you’re currently using e-cigarettes to help you quit smoking, stop. “People should use FDA-approved methods to quit smoking. A combination of behavioral programs and pharmaceuticals gives you the highest chance of success,” Edelman said.