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Research Says That E-cigarettes May Be Linked To Lung Disease

Research Says That E-cigarettes May Be Linked To Lung Disease

Did you know that the sales of e-cigarettes among teens doubled in the period between 2011 and 2012? There are now 4 million Americans who use these. But the big question that everybody is asking about this billion-dollar craze is whether these new cigarettes are really safer and healthier than old-fashioned tobacco cigarettes.

The main problem is that there has been very little research and, of course, it is probably far too soon to assess the longterm health risks. But there is one alarming fact that cannot be brushed under the carpet in spite of all the hype. It is this: these cigarettes contain nicotine and flavored chemicals — no less than 7,000 flavors have been developed!

Harmful chemicals may damage the lungs

One of these chemicals is called diacetyl and it has been found in almost 75% of the e-cigarettes studied by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. They found that this chemical caused bronchial and other lung diseases in workers who were making popcorn with a vanilla flavour which contained it. This condition is called “popcorn lung” because these workers were inhaling it as they made the popcorn.

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When you use these cigarettes, there is no smoke because the battery does all the heating — there is no need for combustion. There is only “vaping,” that is, you are producing vapor as you inhale and exhale. Sounds pretty harmless but the whole process and the use of chemicals is worrying some doctors.

Why e-cigarettes may be harmful

Although there seems to be enough evidence to show that the lack of smoke produces fewer harmful chemicals than normal cigarettes, doubts remain.

What actually goes into the e-cigarettes seems to vary enormously. After all, there are 250 brands already on the market! The most alarming fact is that e-cigarettes remain unregulated and that means there is no guarantee at all in regards to their purity and safety. In addition, nobody knows what the longterm effects of the vapor may be.

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“As for long-term effects, we don’t know what happens when you breathe the vapor into the lungs regularly.” — Thomas Glynn, Director of Science at the American Cancer Society.

The harmful effects of nicotine

Normal cigarette smoking causes about 400,000 deaths in America annually. The burning of tobacco means the smoker is inhaling tar and other toxic chemicals which can lead to heart disease and cancer. Now, the number of chemicals in e-cigarettes is infinitely smaller (9 versus 11,000 according to the FDA), so that would suggest they are indeed much safer. But the nicotine is still in there and that leads to addiction, just as with normal cigarettes. It is so addictive that you can get withdrawal symptoms which can lead to depression and anxiety. The nicotine can also damage the heart and arteries in the long term.

Other harmful chemicals in the mix

The nicotine dose is mixed with propylene glycol and vegetable glycerine. While these are not officially carcinogens, they are believed to be “potentially carcinogenic,” as described in a French report on e-cigarettes. The French government is thinking of introducing a public ban on smoking these devices, including limiting their use to adults only. They are concerned about the health effects and the side stream smoke for those unlucky enough to be near someone who is vaping.

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Up to 42 chemicals have been identified in e-cigarettes. You can see the full list here. They include some rather notorious chemicals which we spend a lot of time avoiding because they are toxic and they may lead to cancer. This includes benzene, lead, nickel, toluene, and formaldehyde.

“In addition to containing varying levels of the addictive substance nicotine, they also contain other cancer-causing chemicals, such as formaldehyde, and as our study shows, flavoring chemicals that can cause lung damage.” — David Christiani, Elkan Blout Professor of Environmental Genetics and co-author of the Harvard study.

When e-cigarettes hit the scene, they were regarded as harmless gadgets and a safer option to smoking. This is only partially true, as we have seen above, and their use should be better controlled for the sake of all our lungs.

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Featured photo credit: Vaping vs Smoking/ Vaping360 via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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