The little that is known about the long-term consequences of vaping does not bode well for lung health, especially as it skyrockets in popularity among young people.
“As electronic cigarettes are quite recent, we do not yet have studies on the risks after 30 years of use. But they are far from trivial, according to our data and those of other researchers,” warns Kim Lavoie, co-director of the Montreal Center for Behavioral Medicine.
With colleagues, the latter produced a summary exhaustive list of available studies on the acute physiological effects of vaping.
Results? On the cardiac side, smoking an electronic cigarette increases heart rate and blood pressure just as much as traditional cigarettes.
Beware of “popcorn” lungs
On the pulmonary side, the risk seems less important, even if vaping has also been associated with increased inflammation of the lungs.
“We can estimate that the more often this inflammation is triggered, the greater the risk of developing lung diseases, including lung cancer,” says Ms. Lavoie.
Among the worst side effects identified, doctors are confronted with vapers with “popcorn lungs”, the nickname given to the inflammation of the bronchioles.
As of August 2020, 20 cases of vaping-associated lung disease have also been reported to the Public Health Agency of Canada, according to the latest published figures.
Although research is still needed , Kim Lavoie cites studies that show a link between chemicals in flavored vaping liquids and lung damage.
Easy to get
This is all the more worrying when you consider the popularity of these flavors – grapefruit, cherry or even cotton candy – among teenagers, she says.
Although it is forbidden to sell vaping products to minors in Quebec, 35% of secondary 5 students are consumers, according to the most recent research.
“Young people tell us that they have no great difficulty obtaining products from major brands,” says Flory Doucas, spokesperson for the Quebec Coalition for Tobacco Control.
“And the companies have quite spectacular marketing to attract them, especially girls,” adds Kim Lavoie.
While vaping has its uses for smokers who want to quit, the researcher advises to avoid smoking at all. start vaping thinking it’s a behavior with no health effects.
A lesser evil
As for cannabis, Sean Gilman, pulmonologist specializing in smoking cessation, maintains that its recreational use is safer than cigarettes.
Still, he advises focusing on oils and edibles.
Smoking becomes a problem when tobacco is mixed into a joint, which is common among heavy users, says Dr. Gilman.
The Quebec Coalition for Tobacco Control is calling for a ban on the sale of all flavored vaping products except those containing tobacco, as is the case in New Brunswick and New Brunswick. Scotland.
–With Hugo Duchaine
A cancer that arouses less empathy
Josée Savard, professor of psychology at Laval University.
Lung cancer is often perceived as “deserved” because of the patient’s years of smoking, which makes the experience even more difficult for them.
“People can have a strong feeling of guilt or shame and hesitate to talk about their diagnosis,” notes Josée Savard, professor of psychology at Laval University.
It’s even more true if these smokers have been told for years that smoking is bad for their health and that they should quit.
In addition to the guilt they feel, patients have to deal with the reaction of their loved ones to this cancer with a bad reputation.
“The people around you may react with less empathy than if it were another type of cancer. Without it being verbalized, some will think that it is deserved,” explains Ms. Savard.
This type of opinion can even affect the quality of support that patients receive during times that are among the most difficult of their lives.
“And that can have a devastating effect,” she continues, emphasizing the importance of compassion and kindness towards the patient, no matter the cancer.
The psycho-oncology specialist also recommends that her patients show empathy towards their past decisions.
“We can recognize that smoking had an influence on the diagnosis, while trying to understand why we were so addicted to cigarettes. »
Far from the pink ribbon
But even at the scale of society, cancers do not all attract the same sympathy or the same mobilization .
Just think of the pink ribbon campaign against breast cancer, or Movember for the fight against prostate cancer.
Nothing as popular exists for lung cancer, yet the deadliest for Quebecers.
“We don’t talk about it much for the number of individuals it affects” , believes pulmonologist Catherine— Labbé, of the Institut universitaire de cardiologie et de pneumologie de Québec.
“And I think that there are a lot of patients who do not feel as understood and supported than if they had cancer with more publicity. »
Cancer patients who request it can obtain free psychological follow-up with a doctor’s prescription.
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