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09th May 2024

What are the long-term effects of vaping and is it linked to cancer?

Kat O'Connor

A recent study has found that vaping is linked to cancer

Vaping is becoming more and more popular, but we know so little about the habit.

A recent study by Professor of Chemistry at RCSI Dr Dónal O’Shea found that there is a link between cancer and vaping.

Professor O’Shea said the harmful substance is not only linked to cancer but to cardiovascular problems too.

The Royal College of Surgeons has called for public health policies concerning flavoured vapes. 

The team wanted to learn about the impact vaping has on people’s health before it is too late.

Professor O’Shea said:

“We wanted to understand, before it’s too late, the likely impact flavoured vapes are having on the health of the growing number of vapers.

“Our findings indicate a significantly different profile of chemical hazards compared to what we are familiar with from traditional tobacco smoking.

“It is plausible that we are on the cusp of a new wave of chronic diseases that will emerge 15 to 20 years from now due to these exposures.

“We hope this research will help people make more informed choices and contribute to the conversation on the potential long-term health risks and the regulation of vaping.”

How did the team find a link between vaping and cancer?

The team explained that they used AI to simulate the effects of heating e-liquid flavour chemicals found in nicotine vapes.

All 180 e-liquid flavour chemicals were included in the study.

The analysis revealed the formation of many hazardous chemicals including 127 that are classified as ‘acute toxic’, 153 as ‘health hazards’ and 225 as ‘irritants’.

Some vapes include a group of chemicals called volatile carbonyls (VCs), which are known to pose health risks. They were mainly found in fruit, candy and dessert-flavoured vapes.

Professor O’Shea stressed that the fruit and candy-flavoured vapes pose more risk. Dessert-flavoured vapes also contained more hazardous chemicals.

O’Shea added, “You don’t need to be a medical doctor to see the dangers that are here.”

As well as the likely link to cancer, there are multiple short-term health effects when it comes to vaping.

The short-term side effects of vaping include coughing, shortness of breath, eye irritation, and nausea. People may also suffer from headaches, and dry and irritated mouth and throat.