Is Vaping Dangerous? Certain Flavors Can Increase Risk

Some vape juices may break down into harmful chemicals when heated, and recent reports indicate it’s possible to identify dangerous vape juice by flavor.  A recent article presented in May 2018 at the American Thoracic Society’s annual meeting in San Diego indicated that cinnamon vape juices may be particularly dangerous to vapers’ lungs. An article published back in January 2018 in Frontiers added vanilla and buttery flavors to the list of potentially harmful ejuices, although although “popcorn lung” is not under discussion or investigation. The article also indicated these specific flavors of vape juice cause damage to monocytes (white blood cells) and increase oxidative stress beyond the average wear-and-tear one would normally expect to see.

It’s important to note that it’s the flavorings themselves that are called into question The issue isn’t nicotine at all. The health risk from these flavorings is present whether or not the vape juice has any level of nicotine, or none. The flavors researchers examined are considered food-safe. They’re harmless when ingested. However, inhaling them is a completely different ballgame. Consider that cinnamon flavoring produces cinnamaldehyde when heated. Aldehydes that are inhaled contribute to the tiny hairlike fibers of the lungs, know as cilia, slowing down. These little hairs have to move in order to keep dirt, dust and particles out of our lungs. and becoming inert. Vanilla flavoring yields o-vanillin, and buttery or creamy flavorings produce pentanedione when vaporized or treated with high heat, including heat levels consistent with common vape use. Essentially, these flavors of vape juice decompose into dangerous aldehydes that are then inhaled. They cause cell death in the lining of the lungs. Note that formaldehyde isn’t part of the story, here. Cinnamaldehyde comes directly from flavorings that mimic cinnamon.

No one is saying that these flavorings are causing cancer, or that they present an imminent risk to a person’s health. However, the evidence is mounting that these three popular flavor families of vape juice break down into chemicals that actively harm the body in subtle, but cumulative ways. When the flavors are combined, the level of risk goes up. Without doubt, vaping is far, far less dangerous than smoking. However, it’s interesting that the flavors associated with cinnamon, vanilla, and creamy or buttery tastes are themselves more dangerous than other ejuice flavors. At the least, it can’t hurt to be aware of potential risk factors involved in such a fairly new activity.