Vaping and Cognitive Impairment: Examining the Effects

As the use of vaping rises, so do questions about the health impacts new vaping products could have on users, particularly when it comes to cognitive impairment. This article seeks to examine what the research has revealed about the potential link between vaping and cognitive impairment, drawing on both laboratory and observational studies to paint a clearer picture of the effects of vaping on brain function.

Understanding Vaping

Vaping is the inhaling of a vapor created by an electronic cigarette (or an e-cigarette). This vapor is composed of a mix of chemicals, including nicotine, propylene glycol, benzene, and sometimes even formaldehyde. Vaping is becoming increasingly popular, particularly with teens and young adults, due to its variety of flavors and marketing. While vaping is believed to be a less harmful option than smoking, there is still concern surrounding its effects on cognitive impairment.

Cognitive Impairment Linked to Vaping

A study conducted on young adults aged 18–29 years, found smokers had significant cognitive impairment on sustained attention and spatial working memory. Similarly, e-cigarette use was associated with reduced performance in working memory, processing speed, and executive functioning compared with those who did not engage in vaping. This suggests a link between vaping and cognitive impairment.

In addition, a study on nicotine vaping revealed an association with poorer self-esteem, impulsivity and an increased risk of heart disease. Maternal exposure to nicotine has also been associated with cognitive deficits in mouse offspring.

Vaping Among Teens

It’s clear that vaping has been associated with cognitive impairment in individuals of all ages. However, it’s particularly concerning with younger users, as the effects may be more significant. Several studies have reported an association between nicotine vaping by youth and the use of other tobacco products. This indicates that vaping could increase the likelihood of using more harmful substances.

In addition, a systematic review of vaping and mental health comorbidities in youth reveals that vaping has consistently been linked to depression, anxiety, and poor emotional wellbeing. This suggests that e-cigarette use in adolescents can have long-lasting negative consequences both cognitively and emotionally.

In conclusion, while vaping is believed to be a safer option than smoking, it appears to also be associated with cognitive impairment in all age groups. It is especially important to keep in mind the negative consequences that vaping can have on adolescents. Vaping can potentially increase the likelihood of using other tobacco products, as well as lead to lower self-esteem, impulsivity and depression. As such, it is important to continue to study these effects in order to better understand the potential health risks.