If you've looked at electronic cigarettes and compared them to analogs, you probably know that one of the similarities is that each delivers a varying dose of nicotine. Electronic cigarettes lack many of the harmful ingredients found in traditional tobacco cigarettes, but nicotine is one of the common threads between the two.
So while you're cutting out a bunch of undesirable additives, presence of nicotine remains constant- and for many vapor cigarette users, the main reason they like their e-cigs. Electronic cigarettes lack a lot of nasty analog properties- smoke, cigarette smell, tar, formaldehyde, ammonia... the list goes on. (In the 90's, cigarette makers released a list of nearly 600 additives in cigarettes, including 43 carcinogens.)
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So you've cut out the tobacco and tar regimen, but does nicotine itself pose any risks to your health? While nicotine alone is not carcinogenic, it is a drug. Several symptoms can result from using it, whether you are dispensing it through a nicotine inhaler, a patch, gum or an electronic cigarette.
Interestingly, nicotine is both a stimulant and a relaxant, and the effects of it vary from person to person. It causes your body to release adrenaline, stimulates your metabolism and suppresses your appetite. (Which is why one of the side effects closely associated with smoking cessation is mild to moderate weight gain, and why replacing nicotine when you quit smoking can reduce this effect.)
Nicotine is associated with improved mood, and it activates the section the brain that regulates feelings of pleasure and euphoria, or the brain's "reward system." This area is responsible for reinforcing positive behaviors, but it also is the same region that creates addictive behaviors. Nicotine is known to have some cardiovascular effects, although smoking itself has far more of an impact on these systems.
Surprisingly, nicotine even has some possibly therapeutic effects. It is associated with focus and calm, and has been shown to delay the onset of Parkinson's disease as well as potentially inhibiting breast cancer. So is nicotine bad for you?
Cigarettes most certainly are. But when you subtract the known, deadly side effects of cigarette smoking, a replacement therapy such as e-cigarettes is likely a better bet, if only to eliminate one of the other negative effects linked with smoking- secondhand smoke.
Have you made the switch from traditional tobacco cigarettes to vapor cigarettes? Did you notice any effects on your health or general well-being?