Can Vaping Help Smokers Reduce Blood Pressure?

High blood pressure is common among smokers. Can vaping help reduce this heart disease risk factor?

Could vaping help smokers lower their blood pressure, and avoid weight gain after quitting? If so, by switching from cigarettes to vapor products at an early age, smokers might be able to greatly reduce their risk for heart disease later in life.

study looked at patients with hypertension (high blood pressure) who smoked cigarettes only, vaped only, or reduced cigarette use by also vaping. The were clear: the smokers who greatly reduced or eliminated cigarette consumption by vaping had “significant reductions” in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

The study was led by Dr. Riccardo Polosa of the University of Catania (Italy), and published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. He has done other work examining the effects of vaping, including a study that found that eliminating or reducing smoking with e-cigarettes actually reversed damage from smoking in asthmatic patients.

Why does blood pressure matter?

Heart disease and stroke are among the primary causes of premature death among smokers. Smokers have twice the risk of non-smokers for a fatal cardiovascular event over the next 10 years of life, and young smokers are five times more likely than non-smokers to have a heart attack. Cigarette smoke causes the arteries to stiffen and sustains low-grade systemic inflammation, both of which can lead to hypertension. Hypertension makes the smoker’s risk of dangerous cardiovascular events even greater.

According to the authors, there isn’t much information about the long-term effects of smoking cessation on blood pressure for smokers with established hypertension. Further, the benefit of quitting smoking is often offset by weight gain among former smokers. Weight gain itself is a risk factor for hypertension and heart disease, which complicates the analysis.

“Regular e-cigarette use may aid smokers with arterial hypertension reduce or abstain from cigarette smoking, with only trivial post-cessation weight gain”

Polosa and his team found that the smokers who use e-cigarettes have limited their post-cessation weight gain substantially compared to ex-smokers who don’t vape. “The trivial post-cessation weight gain after switching to regular [e-cigarette] use might have contributed to the positive long-term effects of smoking cessation on BP and BP control,” they conclude.

Despite some limitations (sample size, no control over other lifestyle factors, self-reporting of smoking patterns), the study indicates that vaping could play an important role in helping smokers reduce their risk of serious cardiovascular harm. “Regular [e-cigarette] use may aid smokers with arterial hypertension reduce or abstain from cigarette smoking, with only trivial post-cessation weight gain,” they conclude. Larger studies could confirm the findings.

Can Vaping Help Ex-Smokers Avoid Weight Gain?

Smokers worry about weight gain after they quit. A group of researchers think vaping might be the answer

 

Did you worry about gaining weight when you quit smoking? A lot of people do worry, and for good reason. Smokers who quit gain more than 11 pounds on average in the first year after their last cigarettes.

But an academic article by an international group of health researchers suggests that vaping might be a way for smokers to avoid that problem. The commentary, titled “Could Vaping be a New Weapon in the Battle of the Bulge?”, was published in the December 2017 journal for Nicotine & Tobacco Research.

How do nicotine and flavors help?

As smoking in western countries has declined, rates of obesity have climbed. Along with weight gain come a lot of health problems. “Obesity is set to overtake tobacco smoking in many developed countries as the primary preventable cause of conditions such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease,” they write. “Obesity is a complex condition that is challenging public health prevention efforts.”

It’s a nice break to see researchers pointing at something good that vaping might accomplish.

The authors explain that nicotine prevents weight gain by suppressing appetite, and also by increasing the body’s metabolic rate. That’s why cessation products like Chantix and Zyban don’t help smokers avoid weight gain after they quit.

They suggest that while nicotine replacement therapies may help ex-smokers accomplish that as well as vaping, e-cigs have a possible advantage over NRT. Nicotine content in vapor products is a lot easier to customize than with pharma products like gum and patches. Lots of vapers have reduced their nic content gradually till they were at very low or zero-nic.

Vapers can taper down gradually in a much more sophisticated way than they can with NRT.

“People can change their nicotine content, so to quit smoking they might start off on a higher strength e-liquid and then they can taper down really quite gradually in a much more sophisticated way than they can with NRT, which is probably good for weight maintenance and for weight loss,” co-author Linda Bauld told The Guardian.

She also said that the wide variety of e-liquid flavors might also work as substitutes for sweet snacks. Vapers often make the claim that candy and dessert flavors keep them from eating the real thing — although I have my doubts. But there’s no doubt that the further a vaper gets from burning tobacco, the better sweet and fruity flavors taste, and the more we crave them.

Vaping might be a good thing? Refreshing!

Two of the authors — including friend-of-vaping Marewa Glover — are from Massey University in New Zealand. The third, Linda Bauld, is from Stirling University in the UK. Bauld is also deputy director of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, and has also been involved in other interesting studies that have looked at e-cigarettes as potentially beneficial.

It’s a nice break to see anyone but vapers pointing at something good that vaping might accomplish. The usual fare, of course, is researchers studying vaping and vapers as though they might be harbingers of the fall of western civilization. It’s refreshing to encounter academics applying the benefits of low-risk nicotine to solving a health problem, rather than running away in horror. Almost as refreshing as this pineapple cake liquid I’m vaping. But not quite.

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E-Juice On Your Skin: Should You Worry?

Should you worry when you’ve spilled a bottle of ejuice in on yourself?

By

 Lee Johnson

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June 3, 2018

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It’s easy to see why new vapers panic when they accidentally get some e-juice on their skin. You can hardly pick up an e-juice bottle without seeing a mess of warnings about avoiding contact with the liquid, keeping it away from children and pets, and even calling poison control centers if you get some e-juice on your skin or swallow some.

When you see all this, being a bit worried about spilling e-juice on yourself is totally understandable.

But warnings are often more about covering companies’ backs legally than really informing consumers. The question is: will getting a drop or two of e-juice on your skin really do you any harm? Should vapers really be worried about getting e-juice on their skin?

Here’s what you need to know.

Can nicotine can be absorbed through skin?

There is some truth to all of the warnings on your e-juice bottles. Nicotine works in patch form because it can be absorbed through your skin. Similarly, people who harvest tobacco sometimes get what’s called “green tobacco sickness” when the nicotine from the plants is absorbed through their hands. So it’s no surprise that there is a warning on e-liquids that contain nicotine. The question is whether it’s a serious concern.

What are the risks of too much nicotine?

You’re unlikely to notice any symptoms or side-effects from spilling commercial e-liquid on your skin. Even “high-strength” juice like 24 or 36 mg/mL doesn’t contain enough nic to be absorbed rapidly enough to cause noticeable effects. If somehow you really soaked your hands and arms in e-juice and didn’t wipe or wash it off, maybe you’d experience some of the classic nicotine poisoning symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach cramps
  • Headaches
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Rapid breathing
  • Convulsions
  • Shortness of breath

For mild poisoning, feeling sick, having stomach pains and getting headaches are the most likely consequences. This is why nausea is one of the first things you notice if you’ve been vaping too much nicotine. But as most vapers that handle e-juice or “open systems” will admit, getting e-juice on your hands is far from a rare occurrence… and far from a concern. Warning labels aside, nicotine poisoning from e-juice on the skin is almost unheard of.

How much nicotine is dangerous?

The big question is: how much nicotine is dangerous? The answer to this question from many sources – even the CDC – is that about 60 mg can be fatal to an average-sized adult. This would make a few milliliters of 24 mg/ml e-liquid potentially deadly. If this was the case, spilling retail e-liquid on your skin would be a risk to take seriously.

The problem is that the 60 mg estimate is totally wrong! Researcher Bernd Mayer tried to find the original source of the figure, and after a lot of sleuthing and reference-checking, it turns out the 60 mg figure was actually a guess from over a century ago, based on an obviously unreliable set of self-experiments from that time. You can check out the study for more detail, but the short version is that the real figure is probably more like 500 to 1000 mg, or even higher.

This is a figure for the lethal dose, though. There can be negative reactions with much lower amounts than this. However, for the average case of a vaper taking in too much nicotine, it’s more along the lines of mild symptoms similar to drinking too much coffee. And that is typically from just vaping too much, not from a minor spill that gets on the skin.

Should you fear handling ejuice?

The last section makes it clear that you need a lot of nicotine in your body before you’re at serious risk. This should ease your fears about spilling ejuice with nicotine on your skin, but it isn’t even the whole story.

Nicotine can absorb through your skin, but it doesn’t do it very quickly. A study on the topic (described in this blog post) found that it took two hours for nicotine from an 8 mg/mL e-juice to even start to transfer through a skin sample. When it did, the nicotine didn’t pass through the skin quickly either: if you had the face of your palm completely covered in e-juice, you’d only absorb about 0.5 mg per hour.

The conclusion from this is unavoidable. Higher-nicotine e-liquids might absorb a bit more quickly, but even then there isn’t much chance you’ll suffer serious consequences. You’d have to dunk your whole arm in a vat of e-juice and just leave it sitting there through most of the day to really put yourself in danger.

In the real world, working with high-strength nicotine base for DIY mixing requires more consideration. If you use high nic — like 70-100 mg/mL or higher — you should probably wear rubber or latex gloves, and possible safety glasses in case of splashes.

 

What to do after a spill

If you do spill e-juice on your skin, there’s no need to panic. However, there are a few simple steps you can take to make absolutely sure you stay safe:

  • Assess the situation: A small spill on your skin is completely different from spilling a whole bottle all over yourself, the table, and the floor. If you’ve spilled a lot, remember that children and pets are the most at risk, so get them out of the area right away.
  • Clean any e-juice off your skin: Wash your hand, arm or whatever else is affected under some warm water to clear off any e-liquid. Of course, if a child or pet has gotten some e-juice on their skin, make sure you wash it off them right away too.
  • Clean the affected surfaces: If you’ve spilled on a table or the floor, clean it up with paper towels. For bigger spills, many vapers use sawdust or cat litter to soak it up before cleaning. Then wipe the surfaces down thoroughly with soapy water.
  • For big spills, change any affected clothes: If you’ve spilled e-juice all over your shirt, don’t just let it dry off while you’re wearing it. The nicotine from it can still absorb into your skin. If possible, change any affected clothes and rinse them out.
  • Lookout for symptoms of nicotine poisoning: Even if you think you dealt with the situation, there’s a chance you missed some e-juice or you were exposed to more than you thought. Keep an eye out for symptoms like nausea, stomach pains and headaches so you’ll know to seek further help if needed. 

Although it’s unlikely, if you are experiencing serious symptoms after a spill, call a poison control center, describe your situation and get some first-hand advice on what to do. You’ll probably be fine in a couple of hours, but it’s better to be cautious and get yourself help if you might need it.

 

E-juice on your skin: Stay calm

Despite all the warnings about the “dangers of liquid nicotine,” most vapers really aren’t at risk from a bit of spilled e-juice. The biggest danger for most of us is losing a few milliliters of our favorite e-liquid.