Effects of Smoking on the Lungs | Effects of vaping on the lungs
After decades of anti-smoking campaigns, cigarettes are decidedly outdated. Except they’ve been replaced by more futuristic electronic smoking devices: battery-powered pens that could pass for USB drives and hold pods of liquid containing nicotine, CBD, THC and other chemicals. In case you’ve been living under a rock, “vaping” – or inhaling the vapor created by these electronic smoking devices – is the new smoking.
Although traditional cigarette and tobacco use has dropped by 67% among adults, according to to the American Lung Association, global vaping sales reached $15.7 billion in 2019 and are expected to reach $39 billion by 2030, to research Posted in The Lancet found – that’s a whopping 154 percent increase.
Thanks to effective marketing and the fact that to research suggests that chain smokers can use nicotine-containing e-cigarettes to help kick the habit, these electronic smoking devices have a much better reputation than old-fashioned cigarettes. “E-cigarettes were originally created to wean people off disabled of tobacco,” says Nancy E. Amoroso, MD, specialist in critical care and pulmonary medicine at NYU Langone in New York, NY. “Now they’ve become so trendy that people who didn’t even smoke are using them – and people are vaping anything, not just nicotine.”
But despite their (potentially) well-intentioned start, e-cigarettes of all kinds can be disastrous for your lungs, especially as a runner. Here’s what you need to know.
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What happens in your lungs when you vape?
When you take a puff from an electronic smoking device, you heat a liquid in a cartridge into an aerosolized mist that you inhale into your lungs, explains jonathan parson, MD, a pulmonologist at Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University. “This liquid can contain a varying amount of ingredients like nicotine and THC, most of which are safe to ingest. But when you heat up those ingredients, it’s the additives in the cartridges that are the culprit.”
These chemicals? We’re talking about everything from propylene glycol, a common food additive that’s also used to make things like antifreeze and paint thinner; acrolein, a herbicide primarily used to kill weeds; diacetyl, a chemical linked to lung disease; heavy metals, including nickel, tin and lead; benzene, an organic compound (VOC) found in car exhaust; and carcinogens such as acetaldehyde and formaldehyde, according to at the American Lung Association. (FWIW, the FDA regulates these products.)
When you inhale, these aerosolized chemicals enter your trachea (or windpipe), which breaks down into smaller and smaller airways, Amoroso says. “Finally, they enter those tiny air sacs in the lungs called alveoli, where oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged. Because these chemicals are irritants, they can cause an inflammatory reaction in the airways and lung tissues. “, she says.
Not only will this inflammation cause respiratory symptoms like coughing, shortness of breath, chest tightness and wheezing, Parsons says, but it also impairs the ability for this gas exchange to occur, which prevents oxygen from entering. effectively in your bloodstream (more on that in a minute).
Vaping something “healthier” like CBD, THC, or even vitamins (yes, that’s a thing) isn’t better for you. In 2019, following a sharp increase in hospitalizations, investigators from the US Food and Drug Administration bound vitamin E acetate, which is used to dilute oils in vaping, to vaping-associated lung injury (or EVALI). “Vitamin E acetate inhalation can cause acute lung injury, a more severe and aggressive form of the inflammation I mentioned earlier,” Parsons says.
What does this have to do with running performance?
You don’t need a scientist or a doctor to tell you that your lungs are critical to your running performance, but here’s a biology reminder anyway: when you breathe in, oxygen enters these alveoli, explains Amoroso. From there, it is diffused into the blood vessels, which carry this oxygen to your working muscles. At the same time, your blood vessels carry carbon dioxide from your muscles to the alveoli, where it is expelled when you exhale.
“Anything that compromises the ability of the lungs to function at their best decreases oxygen delivery, which affects your muscles and your energy levels – your muscles will tire sooner and running will be more difficult,” she says. .
In the case of e-cigarettes with nicotine, you will also be playing with your resting heart rate. Nicotine is a stimulant that raises your heart rate, Parsons says. “Endurance athletes tend to have a low resting heart rate, which gives them a large window of performance before reaching their maximum heart rate,” he explains. “If your resting heart rate goes from 40 to 80 because you smoke, your performance window will be smaller.” Translation: the sooner you tire, the more difficult the exercise will be.
There is no doubt that tobacco is bad for you. But inhaling foreign particles not prescribed by a doctor can be harmful can also be bad for you. Think about the long-term effects on New Yorkers who inhaled the dust from the World Trade Center, says Amoroso. “Although we don’t have all the data to discuss the long-term effects of vaping on the lungs, we do know that inhaling certain foreign particles can increase your risk of developing chronic lung disease,” she says.
“With long-term use, it’s likely that runners will see some decline in performance,” Parsons adds. And as an endurance athlete, amateur or not, you probably don’t want to do whatever which could compromise your lung function and performance.
If you’re a smoker looking to quit, the American Lung Association’s Lung Helpline is staffed by registered nurses, respiratory therapists, and certified tobacco treatment specialists to help you. You can connect by calling 1-800-LUNGUSA or submitting a question here.
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