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Vaping & Cancer: What Patients and Survivors Should Know

Vaping is a bad idea. It just is. If you’re a cancer patient or survivor, it’s a really bad idea.

Here’s why.

Vaping is a bad idea. It just is. If you’re a cancer patient or survivor, it’s a really bad idea.

Vaping is a bad idea. It just is. If you’re a cancer patient or survivor, it’s a really bad idea.

What is vaping?

Vaping involves using a battery-operated device to inhale a vapor. That’s where the word “vaping” comes from. Devices may look like traditional cigarettes, cigars, or pipes, or everyday items such as pens or flash drives.

What is JUUL®ing?

JUUL® refers to a popular brand of vaping device.

Why is vaping harmful?

Vaping can affect how your brain develops. It can harm your lungs. In some cases, vaping has caused lung damage and scarring that may be permanent. Scientists are still learning about the long-term effects of vaping.

How can vaping affect cancer patients and survivors?

We know that cancer and cancer treatment can have short-term and long-term effects on the body.

If you vape when you are a cancer patient or survivor, you could be creating a “double whammy” kind of situation. Your body may be a higher risk for health problems because of your cancer treatment. Vaping is an extra insult.

Research spotlight

A recent study highlights the value of leading a healthy lifestyle for cancer survivors.

Read the blog post

What are myths about vaping?

Myth: The substance inhaled during vaping is only water vapor.

Truth: The vapor can contain known harmful and potentially harmful substances, including:

  • Nicotine
  • Ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs
  • Flavoring such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to a serious lung disease
  • Volatile organic compounds (natural substances that can change into gas or vapors)
  • Cancer-causing chemicals
  • Heavy metals such as nickel, tin, and lead

Myth: Vaping is safer than tobacco cigarettes.

Truth: It is difficult for consumers to know what e-cigarette products contain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the nation’s health protection agency and part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. For example, some e-cigarettes marketed as containing zero percent nicotine have been found to contain nicotine. A recent CDC study found that 99% of the e-cigarettes sold in the United States (at locations included in the study) contained nicotine.

What is wrong with nicotine?

Nicotine can harm the developing brain, which continues to mature until you are about 25.

Each time a new memory is created or a new skill is learned, stronger connections – or synapses – are built between brain cells. Young people’s brains build synapses faster than adult brains. Nicotine changes the way these synapses are formed.

Nicotine can damage the parts of the brain that control attention, learning, mood, and impulse control.

Using nicotine when you are young may also increase risk for future addiction to other drugs.

How can I stop vaping?

For help to stop vaping, it’s a good idea to talk to a member of your care team, a school counselor, or a health provider in your community. Consider the reasons why you vape.

Think about steps you can take to meet those needs in a healthy way.

Vaping helps me wind down. What are healthy ways to relax?

Healthy ways to relax may include:

  • Physical activity such as walking
  • Talking to someone – a care team member or a trusted friend or family member
  • Meditation
  • Deep breathing
  • Apps such as Calm and Headspace

I want to fit in. How do I handle it when others are vaping?

Sometimes you may want to vape because other people are doing it. Sometimes you may not think it through before you decide to join in.

Reflect on how you may respond ahead of time. Maybe say “Not today” or “I’m not interested.”

Consider other fun activities you can do with your friends.

What are other resources to stop vaping?

Consider visiting these sites:

does not endorse any branded product mentioned in this article.

Reviewed: August 2020