According to the latest National Youth Tobacco Study, more than 3.6 million middle and high school students currently use e-cigarettes. Another recent national study found that 11 percent of high school seniors and three and a half percent of eighth graders vaped with nicotine during a previous one month period.
“While it is unknown if vaping causes cancer, it does cause damage to the lungs,” said M. Bassel Atassi, M.D., hematologist/oncologist at Little Company of Mary Hospital (LCMH). “Acute lung injury can happen within a few days or weeks of vaping.”
Acute Lung Injury (ALI) or acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is inflammation of the lungs and occurs when fluid builds up in the tiny, elastic air sacs (alveoli) in your lungs. The fluid keeps your lungs from filling with enough air, which means less oxygen reaches your bloodstream. This deprives your organs of the oxygen they need to function. To vape is to inhale vapor created from a liquid heated up inside a device. The devices have many names – vape pens, pod mods, tanks, electronic nicotine delivery devices (ENDS), e-hookahs and e-cigarettes. The liquid they contain vary from CBD oil, THC, tobacco and sometimes a mixture of contaminated products.
Since e-cigarettes arrived in the U.S. in 2007, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lists 93 harmful or potentially harmful chemicals found in regular cigarettes, and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) describes cigarettes as having more than 7,000 chemicals in them. E-cigarettes contain fewer chemicals than regular cigarettes, but vape liquids can still contain nicotine, a highly addictive drug.
According to the CDC, as of last month, 530 cases of lung injury associated with the use of e-cigarette or vaping products have been reported to CDC and 11 deaths have been confirmed in California, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, and Oregon.
“We do not yet know the specific cause of these lung injuries. The investigation has not identified any specific e-cigarette or vaping product (devices, liquids, refill pods, and/or cartridges) or substance that is linked to all cases,” said Dr. Atassi. “The best way to prevent these injuries is to not start using vaping products or discontinue use immediately.”
It is important that parents talk to their children about the seriousness of vaping and utilize the resources available to provide adequate information. LCMH offers serval programs to help you quit smoking safely. In 2015, LCMH was named a Screening Center of Excellence by the Lung Cancer Alliance (LCA) for its ongoing commitment to responsible lung cancer screening. Low dose CT screening for lung cancer carried out safely, efficiently and equitably saves tens of thousands of lives a year. The screening consists of a low dose CT scan of the lungs to detect lung nodules. The purpose of this program is to screen people who are at high risk for lung cancer so that it can be identified in an early stage when effective treatment and cure are possible.
To find out if you are a candidate and to register, or for more information about this screening or the hospital’s Courage to Quit program, please call the Health Education Center at 708.423.5774.