Have You Heard Of ‘Popcorn Lung’ Yet?


Who hasn’t heard about ‘smoker’s lung’? That horrible disease you get from smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes? Those ‘cancer sticks’ as they are often referred to. Which is why e-cigarettes have become so popular and that popularity is growing daily. E-cigs have been touted as the safer option compared to traditional cigarettes because there are fewer chemicals in them that are known to cause cancer and other diseases.

Are They Safer?

Harvard School of Public Health recently released results of a study that revealed e-cigs may not be as safe as we’ve been led to believe. The results were published at the end of 2015 stated that the flavouring chemical used in 75% of the liquids that are used in e-cigs contain Diacetyl.

Diacetyl is a chemical that has been linked to severe cases of respiratory disease that is referred to as “Popcorn Lung” The medical reference, bronchiolitis obliterans, is a debilitating respiratory disease that was first found in those who worked in facilities that processed microwave popcorn from inhaling the artificial butter flavour. Small air sacs get scared by breathing in that artificial butter flavour and causes excessive coughing as well as shortness of breath. Over time, these symptoms get worse and are irreversible.

The study performed by Harvard consisted of 51 types of e-cig liquids that are sold by top brands. The study looks for acetoin, diacetyl, and 2,4-Pentanedione, another flavouring compound that could possibly pose a workplace respiratory hazard.

Each e-cig was placed into a sealed chamber that was attached to a device built in a lab. Then an analyzation was done of their air stream.  The results indicated that at least 1 out the 3 chemicals was found in forty-seven of the fifty-one flavours.

This isn’t a new finding either. The hazards of Popcorn Lung were recognised and associated with the inhaling of the flavouring chemicals ten years ago. Conversely, diacetyl and other flavouring chemicals related are used in several other flavours besides the butter-flavoured popcorn. Some of the flavours included in this are the most popular such as the alcohol flavours, the fruit flavours and candy flavoured e-cigs as well.

The scientists involved in this Harvard study said that even though the public is aware of the health hazards of nicotine, the same can’t be said about the flavouring chemicals used in e-cig liquids. Other studies have shown that e-cigarettes also may contain chemicals that are cancer causing such as formaldehyde. But, because the focus on e-cigs right now is the safety option they offer over traditional tobacco cigarettes, any study on possible hazards hasn’t been done yet.

Still Popular….For Now

The popularity of e-cigarettes is going to continue around the world for now. The scientific data that we have today isn’t strong enough yet in regards to proving any potential negative effects on our health. Until there are more research and studies done, there most likely won’t be any decline either. At this writing, there is not any regulation of the e-cigs or their flavour liquids in the United States, but the FDA does have plans to propose regulations that will include e-cigarettes to be regulated by them.

It took a long it took for the general public to learn about how bad traditional tobacco cigarettes, and other forms of tobacco are for our health. Tobacco has been around at least 8,000 years as best scientists can determine. It wasn’t until January 1964, that the U.S. Surgeon General released the first report from the Surgeon General’s Advisory Committee regarding the dangers of smoking. It was a year later before the Federal Government mandated that the warning was to be published on every package of tobacco.

Based on that information, it may be many, many more years before there is enough research and studies done to really be taken to heart by vapours. And in many ways, vaping is better than smoking the traditional type of cigarettes or use other types of tobacco such as chewing tobacco. As with anything we consume or use, it is each person’s own responsibility to themselves and our right to examine those things and make an educated and informed decision.


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