Vaping and Lung Cancer: What You Need to Know

Contributed by: Dr Chin Tan Min

Vapes, also known as electronic cigarettes, have become a popular alternative to traditional cigarettes. However, misconceptions surrounding the health risks of vaping remain prevalent. Dr Chin Tan Min, Senior Consultant, Medical Oncology shares more.

While it is a common belief among many that vaping is less dangerous than smoking traditional cigarettes, it does not come without risk.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), vaping is harmful to health and are not considered safer alternatives to regular cigarettes1. Vaping is known to be associated with an increased risk of heart and lung diseases such as myocardial infarction, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in the short term. The long-term effects on health remain unknown2.

Furthermore, vapes contain nicotine, a highly addictive chemical also present in traditional cigarettes. When inhaled, nicotine quickly enters the bloodstream and activates chemical reactions in the brain that stimulates temporary feelings of pleasure that can lead to addiction.

Infographic - Vape vs Traditional Cigarettes

Does vaping increase the risk of lung cancer?

Currently, there is no evidence that vaping directly causes lung cancer. As a significant percentage of vapers are either current or former cigarette users, it is difficult to accurately determine whether any effects on health are caused by vaping, cigarettes, or both.

Furthermore, as vaping is relatively new, it may take years before we get any concrete data on its long-term effects and links with lung cancer.

As our understanding of vaping and its effects continue to develop, it is important to be aware of its health risks linked to lung cancer. Some short-term risks include but are not limited to:

  • Coughing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Shortness of breath
  • Mouth, throat, lung irritation or injury
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headaches

Some long-term risks include:

  • Nicotine addiction
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals
  • Increased likelihood of smoking cigarettes

Should smokers use vape to cut down smoking?

While vaping may be less harmful than smoking, it still poses a risk to our health.

Like traditional cigarettes, vapes also contain nicotine, some at extremely high concentrations. Vaping can thus be highly addictive and habit-forming, especially when it is used regularly, or as a coping mechanism in times of distress.

In addition, as vapes do not burn out like traditional cigarettes, users may unknowingly vape more than they realise. Longer and more frequent vaping may consequently result in greater exposure to the toxic chemicals contained in vaporisers.

It is also illegal to possess, purchase and use vapes in Singapore. As such, vaping may not be the best way to cut down smoking if you are a current smoker.

However, smokers should not be discouraged from cutting down and quitting. If you are a smoker who is looking to cut down or quit smoking, talk to your doctor about available smoking cessation programmes or tools that would be best for you. Practising healthy habits and effective stress management can also help reduce risk of disease including lung cancer.

WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, 2021 
WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, 2021
POSTED IN Cancer Prevention
TAGS lung infection, prevent cancer