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There’s been a lot of hype about the consequences of vaping, and some claim it may affect and/or cause diabetes. We’ll try to unpack some of these concerns, and give you more in-depth information on the risks of smoking vapes versus regular cigarettes. We’ll also compare some of the advantages of vape smoking over tobacco, and give you insight into what health professionals have been saying about vapes. So, let’s start with our first, commonly-asked question:
Table of contents
- Does Vape Juice Contain Sugar?
- Nicotine and Diabetes
- Nicotine and Other Chemicals in Regular Cigarettes
- Stigmas Towards Cigarettes and Vaping
- Vaping and Nicotine
- Why Do People Say that Vape Juice Has Harmful Chemicals?
- Vapes vs. Regular Cigarettes
- Wrapping Up the Risks and Costs of Vapes
Does Vape Juice Contain Sugar?
No. Vape juice gets its sweetness and taste from flavorings and diluents. These diluents are either vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol, or a mix of the two.
Vegetable glycerin is a sugar alcohol, sort of like erythritol or xylitol. Vegetable glycerin is known for giving the vapor an especially sweet flavor. In general, vegetable glycerin is used in toothpaste, granola bars, and other beauty products, often keeping their moisture intact.
Also a popular additive in foods, propylene glycol works similarly as vegetable glycerin. According to the FDA, it is safe for consumption. Propylene glycol is also considered a part of the alcohol family. It is a colorless liquid that can be used as an emulsifier or to retain moisture in food and industrial products.
Vape liquid with only propylene glycol is said to have a slightly different taste, which is less sweet than juices made with vegetable glycerin. While both of these are considered sugar alcohols, they are not sugars.
If you have heard about vaping increasing your risk of diabetes, it is not because there is sugar in vape juice. Nicotine is the culprit when increasing one’s risk of this disease. Unlike regular cigarettes, you can control your intake of nicotine while vaping.
Nicotine and Diabetes
There’s no way around it—nicotine is a drug, and it will cause harm to your body over time. You may be reading this article because you heard that vapes cause diabetes. As with any nicotine product, you could increase your risk of type 2 diabetes by vaping juice that contains nicotine.
Nicotine impairs your ability to regulate insulin, creating a state known as insulin resistance, which occurs after the chemical processes of your cells are changed or interrupted. Nicotine can give you high blood sugar. For people who already have diabetes, it can sometimes cause hypoglycemia, which is when your blood sugar levels are much lower than they should be.
Excessive smokers significantly increase their risk of type 2 diabetes. Smokers with diabetes have a harder time managing their blood sugar levels, and often they must take more insulin to do so.
For people that quit smoking, their risk of diabetes is usually the highest during their first two years without nicotine. This is partly because some people gain weight when they no longer smoke. However, this elevated risk is not permanent, and it decreases the longer the person does not use nicotine products.
If a person who already has diabetes goes off nicotine, they will have to monitor their blood glucose levels carefully, until their body is used to foregoing the drug.
Vapes have varied nicotine contents. If you are worried about your risks of type 2 diabetes, then you are better off smoking nicotine-free vape juice or e-liquids with very low nicotine content.
Nicotine and Other Chemicals in Regular Cigarettes
Nicotine is a highly addictive ingredient in cigarettes. It produces dopamine, which is the feeling of pleasure you get after smoking. Regular cigarettes contain many other chemicals or traces of chemicals (around 7,000) that are extremely harmful to your body.
Smoking tobacco doesn't just increase your risk of diabetes. It is also a common cause of cancer as well as lung and heart disease. Many people turn to vaping because vape juice does not contain all of the harmful chemicals used in tobacco products. Nicotine is the primary reason for concern while vaping, but unlike cigarettes, vape users can adjust their nicotine intake to lower levels.
Stigmas Towards Cigarettes and Vaping
Some people may feel self-conscious smoking cigarettes because smoking has a negative stigma in some social circles. Sometimes smokers turn to vapes not only to decrease their risk of harm from tobacco, but also they think vaping has less of a stigma than regular cigarettes. However, recent criticism of vapes may undo this, as vapes are restricted from most public areas in the same way cigarettes are.
Vaping and Nicotine
Many smokers opt for vaping because they can decrease their nicotine intake over time. Vape juice is offered with different nicotine levels, from nicotine-free (0mg) to 6mg, 12 mg, 18mg, 24 mg, and 36 mg. This is measured based on how many milligrams of nicotine is present in each milliliter of vape juice.
If you are in the process of quitting tobacco cigarettes, then you will probably be best off using vape juice with mid-range nicotine content, such as 12, 18, or 24 mg. Heavy smokers can use 36 mg vape juice to get themselves through the hardest stage of quitting.
Vaping’s adjustable nicotine content makes it a better alternative to tobacco products. However, critics argue that this feature makes vaping more dangerous, because young, inexperienced smokers may opt for vape juice with extremely high nicotine content.
Many worry as vapes became more popular among high school kids, who are attracted to the variety of sweet vape juice flavors without realizing the nicotine’s negative side effects, the number of teen smokers may increase. Some young people who use vapes may not have smoked otherwise, and they take up vaping because they believe it is harmless.
That being said, vapes are a restricted product, just like alcohol or tobacco. As with any restricted product, proper use is important. Users should know and accept the risks before trying vapes because, yes, while vapes do not contain the many harmful byproducts present in tobacco, they can still contain nicotine, which is addictive and must be handled responsibly. However, vapes give you a choice over how much nicotine you inhale, if any, making this process easier.
Why Do People Say that Vape Juice Has Harmful Chemicals?
The outcry against vaping does have something to do with diethylene glycol, which has been used in certain e-liquids. Diethylene glycol is an ingredient used in antifreeze and brake fluids, as it has a low freezing point. This chemical is also present in cigarettes. Diethylene glycol is very toxic to humans, as it can damage the nervous system, as well as cause renal and pancreatic failure.
When shopping for e-liquids, you should buy high-quality brands from vendors that you trust. This chemical should not be confused with similar-sounding propylene glycol, which is the primary diluent used in vapes and is not considered harmful.
Vapes vs. Regular Cigarettes
It is still under debate whether vapes are considerably safer than regular cigarettes. For one, vapes were recently introduced to the market, and we have not had the time to observe their long-term effects.
However, we do know that the long-term effects of cigarettes include heart and lung disease, as well as various forms of cancer. The smoke produced by tobacco contains more than twenty carcinogens, including carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, benzene, hydrogen cyanide, lead, ammonia, and arsenic.
Vape juice has far fewer ingredients than tobacco cigarettes, though studies do show that their vapor contains carcinogens (carcinogens may be present went the smoke is released, even if these ingredients were not used in the original product). Their primary ingredient, nicotine, is known to have many negative side effects, including diabetes.
We do not yet know the effects of inhaling vegetable glycerin and propylene glycol, though we do know that these products are safe to ingest. It will take more time and study to be certain about the risks of vaping. Interestingly, the UK Health Council has agreed that vaping is a safer alternative to smoking tobacco, whereas American health organizations tend to be more critical.
Health professionals have not suggested that vaping is a viable method to quit smoking, so we mostly have testimonials to prove that vapes have helped people decrease their nicotine intake. Hopefully, with more research, we will have more concrete information about vaping, and maybe more support outside of vape enthusiasts.
Wrapping Up the Risks and Costs of Vapes
Hopefully, we've been able to clarify some of the hype around diabetes and vapes and get down into the detail about the risks of vaping. When it comes to vaping, your safest alternative is to smoke nicotine-free juice or e-liquid with low nicotine content. You will also find this to be the most cost-effective, as vape juice is usually priced by its nicotine level.
We've tried to demystify the 'sweetness' of vapes, which is not the result of sugar, but rather sugar alcohols mixed with flavorings. As nicotine is the ingredient in vapes that can affect or cause diabetes, vaping does not put you at a higher risk of diabetes than normal cigarettes. Rather, the ability to customize your nicotine intake in vaping devices may decrease your risks when it comes to diabetes.