Doctor warns of vaping's hidden side effects and risk of 'silent killer' cancer

Close-Up of Young woman smoking electronic cigarette.Studio shot
-Credit: (Image: FRANCESCO CARTA/Getty)

A health expert has issued a stark warning about the lesser-known dangers of vaping, including a possible increased risk of a 'silent killer' type of cancer.

Dr Mike, a board-certified family medicine doctor with a YouTube following of over 12.2 million subscribers and host of The Checkup with Doctor Mike podcast, shared his concerns on Steven Bartlett's Diary Of A CEO.

Vaping has surged in popularity, especially among the youth, partly due to the perception that it's a safer alternative to traditional smoking, according to Dr Mike.

Yet, Dr Mike warns that vaping can deter individuals from engaging in healthier lifestyle choices such as regular exercise and maintaining a balanced diet. He points out that the full extent of vaping's risks remains largely unknown, but its easy access and non-offensive smell could make it more addictive than cigarettes.

Highlighting the specific risks to young people and their developing brains, Dr Mike insists that vaping should be a means to quit smoking rather than a gateway to nicotine addiction.

"Vaping should be used as a tool as a way of getting you off of cigarettes not as a way of introducing you to cigarettes or nicotine at all," he strongly suggests.

Dr Mike has issued a stark warning to adults who have taken up vaping despite never having smoked: "It's not something that carries value health-wise and can only potentially harm", reports Bristol Live.

Research into the side effects of vaping has highlighted several negative health impacts, including:

  • Increased risk of heart disease and stroke

  • Damage to the lungs, leading to respiratory problems

  • Increased risk of cancer

  • Negative effects on brain development in young people

Lung cancer the 'silent killer'

Lung cancer is often dubbed a 'silent killer' due to its lack of early symptoms. It's only as the disease advances that symptoms start to manifest.

The primary symptoms of lung cancer are:

  • a cough that does not go away after three weeks

  • a long-standing cough that gets worse

  • chest infections that keep coming back

  • coughing up blood

  • an ache or pain when breathing or coughing

  • persistent breathlessness

  • persistent tiredness or lack of energy

  • loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss

There are also less common symptoms associated with lung cancer:

  • changes in the appearance of your fingers, such as becoming more curved or their ends becoming larger (this is known as finger clubbing)

  • difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) or pain when swallowing

  • wheezing

  • a hoarse voice

  • swelling of your face or neck

  • persistent chest or shoulder pain

See a GP if you have any of the main symptoms of lung cancer or any of the less common symptoms.

The risks of vaping

While research into the long-term effects of vaping continues, the current consensus indicates it's not a safe smoking substitute and should be avoided. Dr Mike emphasises that his aim isn't to spread fear but rather to increase awareness about the potential dangers of vaping, which might not be immediately obvious, especially when compared to traditional smoking.

Cancer Research UK has commented: "There is no good evidence that vaping causes cancer. But e-cigarettes are not risk-free."

Johns Hopkins lung cancer surgeon Stephen Broderick points out that while cancer risks are a concern with vaping due to the introduction of numerous chemicals into the lungs, vaping products haven't been around long enough to determine their cancer-causing potential.

"We do know that smoking tobacco forces tiny particles to be deposited deep in the bronchial tree and can lead to the development of cancer. The same may be true for vaping," advises Broderick.

According to a 2021 study discussing the connection between vaping and cancer: "Although no human cancer associated with E-cig vaping has been reported so far, hundreds of lung illnesses and scores of deaths are attributed to E-cig vaping."

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