From nose cancer to impotence, all the health risks of electronic cigarettes

The electronic cigarette (or e-cigs in English) is a device that allows you to inhale vapour, containing varying amounts of nicotine (between 6 and 20 mg) in a mixture of water, propylene glycol, glycerol and other substances, including aromas. Its use, from 2010, the year of its appearance and its diffusion in Italy, has grown exponentially, going, according to ISTAT data, from just under 2% in 2014 to just over 3% in 2019 in subjects between 18 and 69 years old. old. Moreover, in recent years, the number of students using it has more than doubled: according to data from GYTS (Global Youth Tobacco Survey) increased from 0% in 2010, to 8.4% in 2014 to 17.5% in 2018. But if on the one hand the use of electronic cigarettes has developed, on the other toxicological research has not has not followed suit to identify the potential health risks associated with alternative tobacco products. For this reason I vapers have been at the center of heated scientific debate for years: on the one hand there are those who consider them a method that helps to quit smoking by offering a safe alternative to cigarettes, on the other there are to those who consider them harmful to health and to the fight against smoking. To date, due to the variety of products available on the market and the short duration of their study, it is still difficult to establish the long-term effects of e-cigarettes on human health. According to the final opinion of the Scientific Committee of the European Commission, published in April 2021, this device can cause mild to moderate irritative damage to both the respiratory tract and the cardiovascular system. In addition, experts have also found risks of carcinogenicity to the respiratory tract due to long-term cumulative exposure to the harmful substances they contain.

In this regard, a recent study, conducted by a team led by scientists from Grossman School of Medicine ofNew York University, showed how the harmful effects associated with the use of electronic cigarettes also vary according to what one smokes. Indeed, those who use electronic cigarettes and hookahs mainly endanger their upper respiratory tract by exhaling through the nose, while those who prefer traditional cigarettes inhale more deeply, therefore the lungs are more at risk. And this can be the cause of different diseases: while, in fact, cancers of the nasal cavities, sinuses and throat are more common among vapers, lung cancers are more common among traditional smokers. The study was published in the journal Insights into tobacco use.

I am studying

The researchers recruited 341 male and female New York smokers, including 122 traditional cigarette smokers, 123 e-cigarette users, and 96 hookah users, and observed how many “smokers” and “vapers” exhaled through their noses and /or the mouth. . In addition, regarding e-cigarette smokers, they also recorded the type of device used, whether “pen” or “tank”, to understand if the model could influence in some way the behavior and therefore health effects.

The practice of “retrohaling”

Vapers were observed to emit more smoke through the nose (63% of men and 50% of women) than traditional smokers (22%). The reason is related to the greater tendency that vapers have to exhale through the nose and not through the mouth (as traditional smokers do) to better savor the aromas of the liquid loaded into the device: this practice is called “retrohale“. This technique passes through the nose harmful particles (such as carbon monoxide, nicotine and other toxic compounds) present in the device, causing serious illnesses. “Our results – said the main author of the study Emma Karey – suggest that the unique way vapers and hookah smokers use their devices may expose the nose and sinuses to significantly more emissions than cigarettes, which in turn may increase the risk of upper respiratory disease. »

If you smoke an electronic cigarette, you risk becoming impotent

Those who ‘svapa’ have a higher risk of nose cancer

This practice of retrohale“So can expose the nasal structures of those who vape or smoke hookah to much more fumes of harmful substances causing inflammation. Researchers have indeed found in the nasal tissues of vapers and hookah users, levels of inflammatory compounds ten times higher than those found in traditional smokers, which can damage these tissues and cause certain types of cancer. “Since vaping devices and hookahs are used differently than traditional cigarettes – underlined the co-author of the study Terry Gordon – diseases of the nose and lungs must be considered to assess their safety before judging whether one is more at risk than another”.

These results are consistent with other studies showing that traditional cigarette smokers have a higher risk of lung cancer because they tend to inhale deeply, while cigar smokers, who tend to inhale more shallowly, have a higher risk of lung cancer. throat and mouth cancer.

Are traditional cigarettes better or electronics?

As many people use e-cigarettes to reduce the harms of smoking or to quit smoking, research is investigating the long-term effects of smoking. e-cigs to understand if it really is a healthy alternative. According to the results of the most recent studies, it seems that the harm of electronic cigarettes is not at all less than that of traditional cigarettes. In addition to the damage it can cause to the upper respiratory tract, as shown in the aforementioned study, other research, published in theAmerican Journal of Preventive Medicine, showed how e-cigarette use contributes to erectile dysfunction regardless of age and other risk factors, as it causes changes in penile vasculature. But not only that, yet another study conducted by the scientists of the University of Kansas-Wichita School of Medicine, showed that e-cigarette smokers are 56% more likely to have a heart attack, 30% more likely to have a stroke; 44% more likely to develop circulatory problems and twice as likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and other psychological disorders.

These studies confirm what the World Health Organization (WHO) had already said in 2019, namely: “E-cigarettes are no less harmful than traditional cigarettes. They are not without risks, and their long-term impact on health and mortality is still unknown.”


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