Vaping has been a popular term since 2014. It’s no wonder why. Even though vaping is addictive and harmful, it is still taken as less harmful than cigarettes. It is taken as a safer alternative to cigarettes. It’s simply because vapes don’t contain tobacco nicotines. Vapes are E-cigarettes, devices that deliver nicotine with flavoring and other chemicals in a vapor rather than smoke.
However, a recent study reported in JAMA Pediatrics has determined that it only takes a single 30-minute session of vaping to increase oxidative stress in the immune cells of healthy people. Cigarette smoke induces cellular oxidative stress. But guess what, vaping isn’t a safer alternative either. Here is what you may want to know more about how vaping increases oxidative stress.
What is oxidative stress?
Oxidative stress is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in your body. Free radicals are oxygen-containing molecules with an uneven number of electrons. The uneven number allows them to easily react with other molecules. Free radicals or Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) can cause large chain chemical reactions in your body. It is because they react so easily with other molecules. ROS are normal byproducts of cellular processes and can be important to physiology, but if they accumulate they can lead to tissue damage and disease. Oxidative stress has been linked to cancer, cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and many other disorders.
Dr. Holly Middlekauff, a professor of cardiology and physiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA says, “Over time, this imbalance can play a significant role in causing certain illnesses, including cardiovascular, pulmonary, and neurological diseases, as well as cancer”.
The research collected 32 male and female study participants. The participants ranged in age from 21 to 33. Furthermore, they were divided into three groups: 11 nonsmokers, nine regular tobacco cigarette smokers, and 12 regular e-cigarette smokers. Middlekauff and her colleagues collected immune cells from each individual before and after. The participants went through a half-hour vaping session to measure and compare changes in oxidative stress among the groups. The researchers performed the same process during a control session in which participants spent 30 minutes “sham-vaping,” or puffing on an empty straw.
Eventually, they found that in nonsmokers, oxidative stress levels were two to four times higher after the vaping session than before. The same 30-minute exposure did not lead to an increase in oxidative stress among regular cigarette consumers and e-cigarette smokers. The researchers noted that most likely because their baseline levels of oxidative stress were already high. Hence the research proved vape to be more injurious to non-smokers than regular smokers.
Middlekauff surprisingly said, “We were surprised by the gravity of the effect that one vaping session can have on healthy young people,”. “This brief vaping session was not dissimilar to what they may experience at a party, yet the effects were dramatic.” In addition to that, she found the result troubling because the popularity of vaping continues to increase. Moreover, among teens and young adults. According to a 2020 study, nearly 1 in 3 high school students reported that they had used an e-cigarette during the previous month. Unfortunately, the research shows no safe level of vaping.
What happens when oxidative stress increases?
Oxidation is a normal yet necessary process in our body. The imbalanced free radicals can start doing damage to fatty tissue, DNA, and proteins in your body. Likewise, oxidative stress invites a vast number of diseases over time. And they are:
- atherosclerosis, or the hardening of the blood vessels
- inflammatory conditions
- heart disease
- neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s
- high blood pressure or hypertension
In case you were one of the people who thought vaping is safer. It is high time to reconsider the notion and stop vaping.