Home » The Link Between Vaping and Lung Cancer – What Research Reveals

The Link Between Vaping and Lung Cancer – What Research Reveals

Smoking is well-known to cause lung cancer, but e-cigarettes haven’t been around long enough for experts to understand their long-term effects. It may be another decade before they are proven to be safe. Until then, smokers and non-smokers alike should be concerned about vapor damage.


Does vaping cause lung cancer? While nicotine is dangerous, it is not known to cause lung cancer. However, nicotine is not the only harmful substance contained in e-cigarette vapor. At a minimum, e-liquids contain flavors, sweeteners and solvents.

Using a heating coil to heat liquids like propylene glycol and glycerin creates carbonyl compounds, increasing your risk of blood clots and heart disease. Vaping also exposes you to volatile organic compounds (VOC), a class of artificial chemicals with high vapor pressure and low water solubility. It makes them dangerous when they evaporate into the air.

When inhaled, vapor from e-cigarettes can irritate the lungs and trigger coughing and wheezing. It can also interfere with immune-boosting white cells and lead to chronic lung diseases like bronchitis, asthma and emphysema. Research shows that the vapor from e-cigarettes can thermally decompose into cancer-causing compounds, such as acetaldehyde, formaldehyde and acrolein.

It can also damage the lungs and skin by irritating and burning them. Diacetyl, an additive that gives e-cigarettes a buttery flavor, has been linked to the development of a lung condition called bronchiolitis obliterans, which scars and narrows the tiny tubes that bring oxygen in and out of the lungs.


The heat from vaping can cause the flavoring chemicals in e-cigarettes to break down, creating toxic aldehydes. These organic compounds, including formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and acrolein, are known carcinogens. They can also cause respiratory diseases, such as bronchitis, bronchiolitis obliterans, emphysema, lipoid pneumonia and pulmonary fibrosis.

Formaldehyde is a colorless gas that forms when wood, paper, or fabric decays. It is extremely toxic to humans, animals, and plants and is known to be a carcinogen. Exposure to formaldehyde can cause respiratory and eye irritation, as well as allergic reactions in some people. The level of exposure needed to trigger these symptoms depends on the concentration and length of exposure.

Studies of occupational exposure to formaldehyde have found an association with cancers of the hematopoietic and lymphatic systems, particularly myeloid leukemia. In addition, several case-control and cohort studies have shown an association between nasopharyngeal cancer and formaldehyde exposure.

The increase in smoking has accelerated the decline in lung cancer and other tobacco-related diseases, and research suggests that vaping may also promote respiratory disease and cancer in some smokers, especially those who switch to vaping from traditional cigarettes.

For this reason, it is believed that promoting the use of e-cigarettes will set back progress in eliminating smoking-related illnesses. It will also encourage young adults to try traditional cigarettes, which can lead to other health concerns such as heart disease and COPD.


For decades, people have been warned about the dangers of smoking, and this led to a decline in smoking-related illnesses like lung cancer. Now, the rise in vaping has researchers concerned that it may reverse these declines, especially because many of the same chemicals are found in e-cigarette vapor. Vaping is the act of using an e-cigarette, which is a battery-operated device.

This device heats liquids containing nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals to produce a vapor that the user inhales. Though the device resembles a traditional cigarette, it is much smaller and can be used discreetly in places where smoking is prohibited. According to a 2020 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over nine million adults aged 18 or older use e-cigarettes.

These devices have become increasingly popular, especially among teenagers, due to their small size, discreetness, and fun flavors like fruit and candy. However, in addition to nicotine, these vapors also contain irritants such as diacetyl and acrolein, which can cause damage to the airways, interfere with immune-boosting white blood cells, and lead to chronic inflammation.

Chronic inflammation is a silent killer that increases the risk of heart disease, cancer, and other health conditions. Moreover, it’s a risk factor for vaping-related lung problems, including the sudden and severe illness known as e-cigarette vaping-related acute lung injury (EVALI).


Arsenic exposure is associated with lung cancer, particularly of the lungs. However, it is unclear whether arsenic is a threshold carcinogen, causing an increase in the risk of disease exposure levels. For example, a recent meta-analysis of cancer incidence and mortality data from US counties with groundwater solely sourced from wells found that simple linear and multiple logistic regression models were statistically indistinguishable at lower-level exposures (less than about three ug/L).

Moreover, sub-analyses by study design – including ecologic, case-control and cohort studies – yielded similar results, with the X intercepts (the non-zero increased level of arsenic exposure beyond which Log RR is zero) generally indicating no increased risk at exposed levels.

In a similar vein, the presence of high levels of arsenic in drinking water is associated with lung blisters, also known as pulmonary nodules. Blisters are small, hard lumps that form in the lung and can erode the surrounding lung tissue, leading to pneumonia. A blister rupture can cause the lung to collapse, resulting in the need for oxygen therapy or surgery to repair the hole in the lung.

Typically, these blisters develop in tall, thin people who have experienced rapid growth during adolescence. They may be difficult to diagnose, as they are not usually painful and can be mistaken for other diseases such as bronchitis or asthma. However, in some cases, they can lead to death if they break open and expose the lungs to blood or other body fluids.


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