Sep 26, 2018 | Updated: 04:34 PM EDT

Just A Bunch Of Hot Air? The Truth About Vaping

Jan 27, 2015 03:15 PM EST

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Love'em or hate'em, the production and marketing of e-cigarettes has become a booming business. And their appeal among nicotine addicts is quite simple―they promise all the nostalgia and comfort of a tobacco cigarette, without the debilitating side-effects to their health. But, are these claims just a bunch of hot air or is there legitimacy behind them?

First off, let's divulge into what exactly "vaping" is -- the newly coined gerund that's replaced "smoking" an e-cigarette. Vaping is inhaling the nicotine-laden vapor that's formed when the liquid makes contact with an electrically charge-and-heated core, converting the substance into its coined pseudo-smoke.  It's a simple, seemingly harmless practice to the unquestioning mind.  But, what exactly is in that liquid cartridge? It turns out to be a worrying chemical cocktail.

Generally speaking,  the typical e-cigarette cartage contains a proportional amount of liquid nicotine, flavoring...and its fair-share of propylene glycol. Harmless in its unexcited state, propylene glycol, when heated, becomes a gaseous form of vaporized formaldehyde. And, whichever angle you approach that factoid from, inhaling a carcinogenic gas doesn't boast well for one's health.

And, adding fuel to the fire, new e-cigarettes have recently come out that allow the user to adjust the voltage being sent to the device's vaporizing core. Great, so what does that exactly mean? Well, an increased voltage form 3.3v to 5.0v allows the liquid nicotine to ignite faster, creating a stronger nicotine "kick," so they say. But, on the other hand, researchers found that this high-voltage-vaping releases hemiacetals, a potent formaldehyde byproduct.  While no conclusive research has been done confirming the dangers of vaping at 5.0v, researchers have, however, found that vaping at such voltages is likely to be conducive with a five-fold increase in the probability of later developing formaldehyde-related cancers.

Either way you light it, the best substance to smoke is nothing at all.

"Lifelong smokers face a greater than 1 in 2 chance of dying from smoking-related diseases, including a roughly 1 in 10 chance of dying from lung cancer," Director of the Center for Smoking Cessation at Duke University Medical Center, Jed Rose says.

These findings were recently published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

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