Vaping: A Potential Health Concern

E-cigarette use has grown approximately 900% among high school students between 2011 and 2015, according to Rob McConnell, an internal medicine specialist at USC. However, as young adolescents are lured into e-cigarettes by their appeal as a “healthy alternative” to cigarettes, what are the major health concerns of e-cigarettes or vaping?

Vaping, the inhalation of vapor through the process of extensive heating of various liquids or juices, mainly fruity ones. Unfortunately, this trend’s popularity has increased exponentially to the point of young vapors noticing bruising and bleeding within their mouths or throats. This consequently leads to the destruction of gum tissues, promoting gum disease. Overall, extensive research has shown that vaping leads to “impaired wound healing.”

In a study conducted by Dr. Irfan Rahman of the University of Rochester Medical Center, he and his colleagues worked with lung fibroblasts in Petri dishes. Fibroblasts are specialized cells that help promote healing of infected tissue or injury when our bodies are encountering damaging stimuli. Microfilaments in the fibroblasts, powered by ATP from mitochondria, help them to contract and expand, assisting in the closure of the wound.

In the lab, Dr. Irfan Rahman and his colleagues decided to make small incisions on the cells to make it seem like the cells are damaged. Meanwhile, the e-cigarette vapors were present in order to understand if these vapors have any effect on damaged tissues. With no surprise at all, they discovered that the mitochondria were unable to function. This meant that the fibroblasts were unable to heal the wound.

Analyzing this data, he saw that there was a correlation of e-cigarette vaping negatively affecting the mitigation of damaged lung fibroblast tissues. Although they cannot affirm that fibroblast damage in wounds would heal more slowly with those who smoke due to the fact that there may be extraneous variables at play, especially in the human body. Since mouth sores, dry throats, and a persistent cough are present among many people who vape, this study may allow for a deeper understanding and an urgency to initiate more studies to explain any negative effects of vaping.

With this in mind, we should think about the next time we decide to vape. Instead, a breath of fresh air may do you more justice.

For more information and more extensive studies covered of possible health concerns due to vaping, click here.

Edited by: Briana Fannin

Andy Chen

Andy Chen is a freshman at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He loves to share multiple perspectives on controversial issues in the field of science as well as discuss new scientific breakthroughs.

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