If you’re trying to quit smoking, you’ve got the right idea.
But if you think smokeless “e-cigarettes” are a safer alternative or a tool to help you quit, your right idea is on the wrong track.
Despite the marketing hype, these gimmicky battery-powered cigarettes haven’t proven to be any safer than regular smokes — and the latest research shows they come with plenty of risks of their own, including significant changes to the airways after just a few minutes of use.
Greek researchers asked 30 otherwise healthy smokers to try e-cigarettes, then watched to see what happened to the airways.
They didn’t have to wait long: After just five minutes, the airways showed signs of inflammation, and breathing tests revealed that the passages were already undergoing constriction.
The researchers say more studies need to be done to see what this means over the long term, but do yourself a favor: Don’t wait around to find out.
While short-term airway constriction and inflammation don’t add up to rock-solid proof that e-cigs lead to long-term lung damage, it’s not exactly an encouraging sign, is it?
E-cigs are relatively new on the scene, but they’ve been popping up everywhere. And if you haven’t seen one yet, you probably haven’t been in any malls lately, where kiosks for the devices are popping up quicker than Cinnabon stands.
The folks who work these kiosks will puff away on their e-cigs right there in the mall to show how “safe” it is — releasing not stinky tobacco smoke, but odorless water vapor.
They don’t even call it smoking — they call it “vaping.”
But while they claim the water vapor is a safer way to deliver nicotine, that doesn’t make them safe — and any implication to the contrary is pure puffery.
Tests have found diethylene glycol, a highly toxic chemical used in antifreeze, as well as known carcinogens called nitrosamines and other dangerous chemicals in some e-cig solutions.
Not exactly what I’d want to inhale.
In addition, the e-cig solution — often called “smoke juice” or “e-liquid” — is unregulated, of highly inconsistent quality and often made overseas, in places like China.
The only real safe alternative to smoking is not smoking. E-cigs might look different — but in reality, it’s just a whole lot of risk with a high-tech name.
PS… Know someone who uses an e-cigarette? Share this with them!
Edward Martin is a health journalist who writes about today's most pressing health issues. He chronicles the most cutting-edge alternative methods for beating everything from diabetes to cancer and reports on the latest FDA foul-ups and Big Pharma conspiracies.