Chris and Jason are eager to understand the vaping or e-cigarette epidemic around the world. In this episode of the Recombobulator Lab they are joined by guest Dr. Laura Crotty Alexander, an Associate Professor in Residence of Medicine at UC San Diego, with undergraduate degrees in science and medicine, residency at Massachusetts General Hospital, and fellowship at Harvard. Laura busts some myths about vaping and shares some interesting stats and facts.
E-cigarettes were invented in China in 2003 and went international in 2007. They rapidly evolved from looking like cigarettes to becoming more advanced and sleek devices that heat up a fluid containing nicotine and chemicals, turning it into an aerosol that users inhale.
While e-cigarettes were invented to help people quit smoking, the original devices did not achieve this goal. However, more modern e-cigarettes contain 10 to 15 times more nicotine, making them more helpful for quitting smoking. It has not been proven that they are more effective than nicotine patches, gum, or inhalers.
According to the FDA's 2021 National Youth Tobacco Survey, more than 2 million middle and high school students use e-cigarettes in the US, and 85% of them use flavored products. This trend has led to concerns about the dangers of vaping, particularly in young people who have never smoked tobacco.
Dr. Crotty Alexander and her team conducted a small study on the effects of vaping on teenagers who had never smoked tobacco. The study found that vaping alters inflammation and the immune system all over the body and causes DNA damage to cells, which is recognized as a critical factor in cancer development. The study also found that even e-cigarettes claiming to not contain nicotine actually do contain it.
Dr. Crotty Alexander believes that to reduce e-cigarette use, the nicotine content should be reduced, and flavors should be limited to only tobacco. The big myth about e-cigarettes is that they contain water vapor and nicotine, but in reality, each puff of an e-cigarette contains 60-120 chemicals.
Dr. Crotty Alexander wants adults to have access to as much information as possible about the dangers of vaping so they can make informed decisions. The messaging around vaping is mixed, but it is more clear with regards to cigarettes, with many countries having warnings on the boxes and using price as a deterrent.
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