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Vaping and Seniors

Vaping and Seniors - There Are Harmful Side Effects

by Don Drake, Connelly Law Offices, Ltd.


Estate Planning Rhode Island
Attorney RJ Connelly III

"A recent study revealed that vape e-liquids and aerosols contain significant amounts of cancer-causing heavy metals, similar to traditional cigarettes," states professional fiduciary and certified elder law Attorney RJ Connelly III. "While the heavy metal content may differ between the two products, the overall cancer risk to users is significantly increased in both cases. These findings underscore the need for continued research into the safety of vaping products and the potential risks they pose to public health, specifically among our nation's seniors who believe vaping is a safe alternative to tobacco use."


As highlighted by Attorney Connelly, vaping has been wrongly perceived as a safe alternative to smoking tobacco, especially among the elderly population and those who have been smoking for years. Furthermore, with the legalization of cannabis and its products, vaping has become increasingly popular. However, there have been numerous reports of health problems among older adults who vape, and this trend is expected to continue due to the misinformation spread by both the tobacco and cannabis industries. Therefore, it is essential to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the potential risks associated with vaping, particularly among the younger and older age groups. Failure to do so could have grave consequences for public health and overall well-being.


"The use of vape pens to consume nicotine or marijuana products poses significant risks, regardless of the substance being used," said Attorney Connelly. "Older adults are at higher risk of experiencing complications. Research has shown that vaping may increase the risk of heart attack and alter cancer-related genes in the mouth tissue. It is important to exercise caution when using vape pens and to be aware of the potential health risks that they may pose for seniors."


More About the Product

Electronic cigarettes, commonly referred to as e-cigarettes and vape pens, are popular handheld devices that vaporize liquid nicotine or cannabis compounds, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), to produce an aerosol that users inhale. While nicotine-based vape products contain additional flavorings, propylene glycol, and glycerol, the contents of THC vaping products may not always be transparent, even if they are purchased from a state-regulated marijuana dispensary.


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Are they really safe?

"The recent surge in lung-related illnesses associated with vaping products has been a cause of great concern for public health experts," said Attorney Connelly. "The exact cause of the outbreak remains unclear, but several theories have been proposed, including flavorings and thickener additives present in THC products, such as vitamin E acetate, which could be responsible for the adverse effects. Others have speculated that black-market THC vape products may contain unfamiliar additives that could be contributing to lung damage."


Despite extensive investigations, no specific product or compound has been definitively linked to the outbreak thus far. The scientific community actively studies this issue to identify the root causes and develop effective treatments.


The Presence of Heavy Metals

There have been several studies conducted on e-cigarettes and nicotine-vaporizing devices, which have highlighted the presence of elevated levels of heavy metals in the bloodstream of users. Because the widespread use of cannabis is relatively new, there is a lack of research when it comes to the impact of cannabis vaporizers on the human body. Further investigation and analysis continue in this area to provide more insights into the health effects of cannabis vaporizers.


Standard vaporizer devices at high voltage and temperature settings have been identified as a potential consumer concern. These devices' heating coil or liquid could release dissolved metals or fine metallic particles that the user may inhale.


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Danger in the additives

"Numerous studies have revealed the presence of harmful heavy metals, such as cadmium and lead, in both cigarette smoke and vape aerosol," said Attorney Connelly. "Recent research suggests that e-cigarettes and their associated liquids may contain a higher concentration of certain toxic heavy metals, including chromium, nickel, manganese, and lead, than traditional cigarettes. Exposure to heavy metals in e-cigarettes can lead to serious health consequences."


The inhalation of chromium and nickel, which are present in various e-cigarette brands, has been linked to respiratory diseases, including lung cancer. Chromium and nickel compounds are commonly used in industrial processes such as electroplating and welding. Manganese and lead exposure may cause neurological and developmental defects. Manganese compounds are used in steel production, pesticides, and batteries, while lead compounds are used in manufacturing batteries, ammunition, metal products, paints, and ceramics.


Cadmium exposure can cause damage to the kidneys and has been linked to lung cancer. Cadmium compounds are commonly found in nickel-cadmium batteries and are used in plating, pigments for coloring plastics, ceramics, glasses, and plastic production. Heavy metals are not the only ingredients in e-cigarettes that increase the risk of cancer. Other chemicals, such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde, are also carcinogens and further put people who vape at risk. The bottom line is that e-cigarettes contain a host of ingredients that could significantly increase a user's risk for cancer.


Second-Hand Vaping

"There is also a common misconception that e-cigarette secondhand emissions are harmless, but nothing could be farther from the truth," states Attorney Connelly. "Many believe the vapor exhaled from e-cigarettes is simply water and poses no risk to those around them. However, the truth is that the vapor released during exhalation contains many harmful substances, including nicotine, ultrafine particles, diacetyl, and benzene."


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Secondhand vapor has its dangers

Nicotine is a highly addictive substance that can have detrimental effects on the body, especially on the cardiovascular system. Ultrafine particles are tiny particles that can penetrate the lungs and even enter the bloodstream, causing respiratory and cardiovascular problems. Diacetyl is a chemical commonly used in the production of flavored e-cigarettes, and it is linked to severe lung disease. Finally, benzene is a dangerous chemical that is present in car exhaust and can cause cancer.


"Although the effects of secondhand vapor may not be identical to those of vaping, it is advisable to avoid it, if possible," said Attorney Connelly. "The risks of being exposed to these harmful substances are widespread and can lead to serious health problems. Therefore, it's essential to be aware of the dangers of vaping and secondhand vapor to make informed decisions about your health and the health of those around you."


Lung Diseases

As the use of e-cigarettes and other vape products becomes more widespread, medical professionals and researchers are working to gain a better understanding of how vaping impacts lung health. Although our current knowledge is limited, there is evidence to suggest that several lung diseases are linked to e-cigarette use. These include:


Popcorn Lung

Bronchiolitis obliterans (BO), commonly known as "popcorn lung," is a rare lung disease that can cause permanent damage to the small airways of the lungs. The condition was initially discovered when workers in microwave popcorn factories started developing respiratory issues. The culprit, diacetyl, a chemical used in popcorn flavorings, causes inflammation and scarring in the lung's tiniest airways, making breathing difficult. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for popcorn lung, but treatments are available to manage the symptoms of BO. Diacetyl is present in flavored e-liquids, commonly used in vaping, and can pose similar health risks if inhaled.


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The lungs are adversely affected by vaping

Collapsed Lung

Primary spontaneous pneumothorax, commonly called a collapsed lung, is a medical condition due to a hole in the lung that allows oxygen to escape. The hole can be caused by a traumatic injury like a gunshot or knife wound or by tiny tears that are created when air blisters on the top of the lungs rupture. These blisters are generally observed in tall, thin individuals who had a period of rapid growth during adolescence, as the accelerated growth can result in a weak point that blisters and develops at the top of the lungs. These blisters usually do not produce symptoms and go unnoticed until they rupture. However, smoking and vaping have been linked to an increased risk of rupturing these blisters, which can cause a lung collapse.


Lipoid Pneumonia

Lipoid pneumonia is a type of pneumonia that differs from the more typical form caused by infection. This condition occurs when fatty acids, the building blocks of fat, enter the lungs. When inhaled, oily substances found in e-liquid can trigger an inflammatory response in the lungs, leading to the development of vaping-related lipoid pneumonia. Symptoms of this condition include a chronic cough, shortness of breath, and coughing up blood or blood-tinged mucus. Unfortunately, there isn't a specific treatment for lipoid pneumonia, and supportive care is the only option while waiting for the lungs to heal independently.


A Final Word

"Although vaping is considered less harmful than smoking and may assist people quit tobacco products, long term reliance on vaping is not safe or healthy," said Attorney Connelly. "Vaping can be highly tempting with its wide range of accessories and flavors that are advertised in smoke shops and corner convenience stores. It's important to be aware that it's not as innocuous as it appears. Nicotine and other hazardous ingredients present in e-liquids can inflict severe damage to your body, and the long-term health hazards of vaping remain uncertain. Similarly, we need to have concerns about cannabis vaping products. Because the use of cannabis vaporizers is becoming more widespread as legalization across the country continues, researchers have warned against their use as they continue to gather information about the dangers they pose to their users."


Estate Planning Rhode Island

Please note that the information provided in this blog is not intended to and should not be construed as legal, financial, or medical advice. The content, materials, and information presented in this blog are solely for general informational purposes and may not be the most up-to-date information available regarding legal, financial, or medical matters. This blog may also contain links to other third-party websites that are included for the convenience of the reader or user. Please note that Connelly Law Offices, Ltd. does not necessarily recommend or endorse the contents of such third-party sites. If you have any particular legal matters, financial concerns, or medical issues, we strongly advise you to consult your attorney, professional fiduciary advisor, or medical provider.

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