The recent surge in e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury (EVALI) has made headlines for all the wrong reasons. Prior to the EVALI outbreak, vaping was mostly seen as a safer way to consume tobacco.
Now, consumers and manufacturers of vaping products are reeling from the current perception that vaping is addictive.
To make matters worse, the media has sensationalized the deaths and injuries associated with the activity. This is despite just 2,300 cases and a 2% mortality rate as of November 2019.
Compared to seasonal health issues such as the flu or the novel coronavirus, vaping-related lung injuries are actually very rare.
While it cannot be denied that vaping-related injury is a public health concern, there is more than meets the eye. Contrary to most media reports, vaping itself does not result in vaping-related injuries. Instead, the composition of vaping products is what results in injuries.
Vitamin E Acetate
According to the CDC, vitamin E acetate is the main culprit behind the adverse effects of vaping. Vitamin E acetate is also found in dermatological products like facial creams. It is commonly used as a diluent in vaping products.
Vitamin E Acetate was found in 80% of blood samples taken from EVALI patients.
The concentration of vitamin E acetate in vaping products ranges from 23% to as high as 88%. When inhaled, it interferes with normal lung functions. As a result of ongoing research, regulators have said that vitamin E acetate should not be added to vaping products.
Other Dangerous Vaping Additives
Additionally, many vaping products contain other chemicals that are harmful to the body. These include nicotine, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and propylene glycol (PG). Nicotine and THC, in particular, are highly addictive.
The latter accounts for 74% of the EVALI cases that have been analyzed by the CDC.
While not all vaping products have these substances, there are cases of both illicit manufacturers and end-users adding concentrated THC and nicotine to products purchased through retail establishments.
When is Vaping Dangerous?
Nicotine and THC vapes are dangerous because of their high addiction levels. This leads to a greater risk of lung injury, especially for e-liquids that have flavors that appeal to younger users.
The risk is even higher when you use illicitly manufactured vaping products. These usually observe poor manufacturing quality standards or cut corners in terms of ingredients.
As such, it is essential to buy vaping products only from legitimate vendors who do not use nicotine, THC, and other hazardous substances in their products. It’s important to choose the best starter vape kits as a new vaper. One way to check if a vape is safe to use is to look at reviews.
Certain manufacturers have enjoyed longevity in the market because of their high safety and manufacturing standards.
Retailers and manufacturers in the USA have to follow stringent standards. These allow users to breathe free, knowing that what they’re holding in their hands is not going to blow up in their face and injure them.
At the same time, it is also vital to check where the e-juice that goes into your vape comes from. Many manufacturers who ship to the US are not entirely truthful about the contents of their products while ramping up their marketing efforts, especially to young vapers.
While most e-juice manufacturers based in the US label their products and ingredients correctly, many black-market sellers tend to add certain harmful ingredients to e-juices to increase their profits. It is almost always better to buy from the manufacturers themselves.
How to Vape Safely
Vaping can be done safely, and in a way that is actually beneficial for your health. For example, it has been long established that some medications, including those for asthma, are absorbed better when inhaled. However, these modes of delivery almost always take the form of inhalers or nebules. Vaping is yet to be explored to the fullest, especially as a means of delivering medication.
The same level of bioavailability that makes vaping THC and nicotine very addictive could actually help the body absorb certain vitamins and other beneficial substances better.
The National Institutes of Health estimates that only 10 micrograms of a 500-microgram vitamin B12 supplement is absorbed by the body if taken orally.
A deficiency in vitamin B12 can lead to megaloblastic anemia, fatigue, weakness, memory loss, and depression. Certain studies also link vitamin B12 deficiency to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline due to elevated homocysteine levels.
While certain foods, such as fish and meat, can supply the daily recommended value of vitamin B12, certain groups have difficulty accessing or absorbing it. These include older adults, pernicious anemia patients, and vegans.
These people can all benefit from alternative modes of vitamin B12 delivery, most commonly intramuscular delivery with an injection.
However, vitamin B12 shots are quite expensive; the cost could range between $20 to $77, depending on the location and health insurance coverage. For many people that have a vitamin B12 deficiency, this cost is too high.
Scientists are looking at other modes of delivery, including vaping, as alternatives to food supplements and vitamin B12 shots.
Compared to other vitamins, vitamin B12 is not easily destroyed by the heat generated by vaporizers, which makes vaping a feasible method of delivering the vitamin.
The Science Behind Vaping for your Health
Peer-reviewed studies show that a single dose of inhaled vitamin B12 immediately elevates the amount of the vitamin in blood samples. This is retained better than a supplement. While injections are still the most efficient method of delivering vitamin B12, vaping comes in as a close second.
Another advantage of vaping is its cost-effectiveness.
A typical vitamin B12 vaping product containing 4,000 micrograms, costs around $15 per vaporizer, and each puff could deliver more than 100% of the recommended daily value.
In other words, a vitamin B12 vape could do more than just wean tobacco or THC users away from their old habits; it could also help prevent many of the health issues associated with vitamin B12 deficiency.