Hidden side effects of vaping explained as doctor warns of 'silent killer' risks

European woman in headphones smoking vape electronic cigarette
-Credit: (Image: Getty)


A health expert has warned of the hidden side effects of vaping, including a heightened risk of a particular type of 'silent killer' cancer. Speaking to podcast host Steven Bartlett on a recent episode of his hit show, Diary Of A CEO, Dr Mike issued a stark warning to anyone who vapes.

Dr Mike is an actively practicing board-certified family medicine doctor. He has more than 12.2million subscribers on YouTube and is the host of The Checkup with Doctor Mike podcast.

Vaping has gained immense popularity, particularly among young people, in recent years. Especially as there is a common belief that it offers a safer option compared to smoking traditional cigarettes, Dr Mike says.

However, one of the biggest dangers of vaping is that it can lead people to skip out on healthier habits, such as exercise and proper nutrition, the doctor explains. He adds that while vaping is dangerous, the extent of its risks is not widely known, yet, and its easy accessibility and lack of offensive odour make it potentially more addictive.

In terms of the dangers of vaping, particularly for young people with developing brains, Dr Mike emphasizes that vaping should be used as a tool to quit smoking, not as an introduction to nicotine. "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," the expert advised.

As for adults who have never smoked but have started vaping, Dr Mike says: "It's not something that carries value health-wise and can only potentially harm." Several negative health effects and side effects of vaping research include:

  • 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, in particular, is often described as a 'silent killer' because there are usually no signs or symptoms of lung cancer in the early stages. Symptoms develop as the condition progresses.

Main symptoms of lung cancer include:

  • 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

Less common symptoms of lung cancer include:

  • 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.

Although the long-term effects of vaping are still being studied, current evidence suggests it is not a safe alternative to smoking and should be avoided. Dr Mike goes on to clarify that his intention is not to fearmonger but to raise awareness about the potential harms of vaping, which may not be immediately apparent due to its seemingly less harmful nature compared to cigarettes.

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

Johns Hopkins lung cancer surgeon Stephen Broderick says cancer is a concern, given that vaping introduces a host of chemicals into the lungs. But vaping products haven’t been around long enough for us to learn whether or not they cause cancer.

“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,” says Broderick.

A 2021 study exploring the links between vaping and cancer also states: "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."