MILAN, Italy — Young people who vape are more than twice as likely to experience chronic stress, a new study reveals. Though young individuals using e-cigarettes tend to be more physically active, researchers in Canada say they also frequently report high levels of stress in their lives.
“Research is starting to show how vaping affects young people’s physical and mental health. For example, our previous research has shown that those who vape are more likely to suffer an asthma attack. In this study we were particularly interested in the relationship between vaping, mental health and quality of life among young people,” says Dr. Teresa To, a senior scientist at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto.
The research utilized data from the Canadian Health Measures Surveys. Of the 905 participants between the ages of 15 and 30, 115 (12.7%) reported using e-cigarettes. This data reveals that young vapers, while generally more physically active, often report feeling the effects of extreme stress.
“Chronic stress can lead to mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. It’s important for young people experiencing chronic stress to be given support early on to help them avoid resorting to unhealthy coping mechanisms like vaping or smoking. Vaping is not an effective way to cope with stress, but stress and anxiety can trigger vape cravings, and make it harder for a user to quit,” Dr. To says in a media release.
The researchers emphasize that while their study draws a connection between vaping and stress among the youth, it doesn’t conclusively determine if stress prompts more vaping, if vaping intensifies stress, or if another variable heightens both. However, they did consider other known stress influencers, including income, alcohol consumption, and health issues like asthma and diabetes.
“We do not know why young people using e-cigarettes tend to be more physically active, but it could be that they are trying to control their weight with exercise and believe vaping could help,” Dr. To continues.
“At the time of the study, this group of young people had good physical health overall; however, we need to study the effects of e-cigarettes in the longer term to understand their impact on young people’s health. We know that stress induces oxidative stress and inflammation in the body and these play an important role in the risk of developing chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” the study author adds.
“This study suggests a link between vaping and stress among young people, and it adds to what we already know about the effects of vaping on young people’s health. Vaping is still relatively new, but the numbers of children and young people using e-cigarettes are rising rapidly. We need more research on the impacts of vaping, but we also need to raise awareness of the harms of using e-cigarettes and provide support to help young people avoid or quit vaping, says Professor Elif Dağlı, who is chair of the European Respiratory Society’s group on Tobacco, smoking control and health education, and was not involved in the research.
“This is one of several studies about the effects of vaping that are being presented at the European Respiratory Society International Congress. In particular, we will be examining the influence of favored e-cigarettes and looking for ways to end the epidemic of vaping among children and adolescents,” Dağlı concludes.
Dr. To presented the findings at the European Respiratory Society International Congress in Milan, Italy.
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South West News Service writer Stephen Beech contributed to this report.