VAPING AND DIABETES

Diabetes is a condition that affects millions of people worldwide. As a disease based on a range of factors and often requiring careful control of lifestyle and diet in order to mitigate, it can be difficult for a diabetic to know what is safe for them and what is not.

Many people are diagnosed with diabetes whilst having a smoking habit. According to the NHS, vaping has been determined to be “The lesser of two evils” when it comes to diabetics, providing a way to satisfy nicotine cravings whilst mitigating some of the worst effects of smoking. Certainly, vaping was for a long time touted as a safer and more reliable way for a person to wean off cigarettes.

However, is it really that clear? Vaping and diabetes is a topic filled with contention, with an abundance of anecdotal evidence being kept loosely in check by a limited number of scientific studies. As something relatively new to the world there is still much we do not understand about vaping, particularly concerning its long-term effects and relationship to various health conditions. Vaping and diabetes is an ongoing area of study, with new information coming out at a frustratingly slow pace. If you’re wondering whether vaping and diabetes is safe to do, there’s a few different factors we need to consider.

VAPING AND DIABETES: WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR

The E-liquid cloud from a vape is very different to smoke from a cigarette, operating on a completely different principle and containing widely different ingredients. Unfortunately, as of writing the longer-term effects of vaping are unknown, so we cannot give any concrete answer on how vaping and diabetes affect one another. What we can do is go through the common ingredients of E-liquids and explain just how they relate to concerns around blood pressure and blood glucose levels.

The two primary components of an E-liquid are Propylene Glycol and Vegetable Glycerin. No studies currently indicate that these have any effect on either blood pressure or blood glucose level. The other primary component of E-liquids to be aware of are the flavourings, which can vary in content somewhat dramatically. Currently, no flavouring ingredients in UK E-liquids have been known to exacerbate the symptoms of diabetes.

Some E-liquids will contain additional sugars for the sake of flavour and texture, which are known to increase the symptoms of diabetes. However, with their concentration in most E-liquids you would have to be vaping extremely large quantities for it to have a significant effect.

As stated, any nicotine present in an E-liquid will worsen the effects of diabetes. Concerning CBD infused E-liquids, one particular study in 2016 linked the use of CBD and the cannabinoid THCV to reduced blood sugar levels and a higher production of insulin in type 2 diabetics. Though this is a positive outcome, the study ultimately concluded that the necessary concentrations of both compounds would require the medium of a sublingual oil in order to have any significant effect. Giving the usual lack of THCV in E-liquids, it is unlikely that any CBD infused E-liquid would be beneficial for a diabetic.

Ultimately, as with many issues, the relatively new nature of the vaping industry is working against it. The lack of trials means that the long-term effects of vaping are still largely unknown, therefore the ultimate effects of vaping and diabetes are hard to determine.

What to look out for

VAPING AND DIABETES: WHAT’S IN A VAPE?

The E-liquid cloud from a vape is very different to smoke from a cigarette, operating on a completely different principle and containing widely different ingredients. Unfortunately, as of writing the longer-term effects of vaping are unknown, so we cannot give any concrete answer on how vaping and diabetes affect one another. What we can do is go through the common ingredients of E-liquids and explain just how they relate to concerns around blood pressure and blood glucose levels.

The two primary components of an E-liquid are Propylene Glycol and Vegetable Glycerin. No studies currently indicate that these have any effect on either blood pressure or blood glucose level. The other primary component of E-liquids to be aware of are the flavourings, which can vary in content somewhat dramatically. Currently, no flavouring ingredients in UK E-liquids have been known to exacerbate the symptoms of diabetes.

Some E-liquids will contain additional sugars for the sake of flavour and texture, which are known to increase the symptoms of diabetes. However, with their concentration in most E-liquids you would have to be vaping extremely large quantities for it to have a significant effect.

As stated, any nicotine present in an E-liquid will worsen the effects of diabetes. Concerning CBD infused E-liquids, one particular study in 2016 linked the use of CBD and the cannabinoid THCV to reduced blood sugar levels and a higher production of insulin in type 2 diabetics. Though this is a positive outcome, the study ultimately concluded that the necessary concentrations of both compounds would require the medium of a sublingual oil in order to have any significant effect. Giving the usual lack of THCV in E-liquids, it is unlikely that any CBD infused E-liquid would be beneficial for a diabetic.

Ultimately, as with many issues, the relatively new nature of the vaping industry is working against it. The lack of trials means that the long-term effects of vaping are still largely unknown, therefore the ultimate effects of vaping and diabetes are hard to determine.

VAPING AND DIABETES: QUITTING SMOKING

Vaping has been touted as an excellent way for a person to wean themselves off cigarettes. Although the health drawbacks of vaping should not be understated, it is undeniable that a vape cloud carries fewer dangers than conventional cigarette smoke. Some health officials have gone so far as to declare vapes 95% less harmful than cigarettes, lacking the worst parts of the toxic compounds found in combustible tobacco.

For this reason, diabetics who are also smokers have received encouragement from several health organisations to try vaping as a means of beating their cigarette habit. Aside from producing a less-dangerous cloud than a cigarette would, E-liquids have the unique benefit of coming in a range of nicotine intensities. For a diabetic attempting to cut down on their smoking, gradually varying the tobacco intensity may be a more manageable way forwards than just trying to cut out cigarettes altogether.  One could go from a high-intensity liquid to a gradually lower one, before switching to an entirely nicotine-free liquid, all without actually changing the routine of their smoking. For many people who try to quit cold turkey, or make the effort to fill their “smoking time” with another habit, vaping may provide a uniquely useful solution.

Once again, we should reiterate the fact that the long-term effects of vaping are still largely unknown. As a means of quitting a nicotine habit, and for the sake of individual health, the aim should always be to leave the habit entirely rather than simply develop a new one. However, with current available data and testimony of former smokers, it seems that vapes are indeed a productive way for people to cut down on their smoking habit.

Quitting smoking

VAPING AND DIABETES: SUMMARY

Vaping should not be presented as “healthy” by any organisation, as this is undeniably irresponsible. We simply don’t know the long-term effects of vaping well enough to be certain, but at the very least we know that vaping is not health positive. Like almost every other recreational substance, from tobacco to alcohol, vaping any kind of E-liquid will have some negative impact on your health.

For diabetics who smoke, vaping should not be a permanent habit; it should be a temporary step used to move away from a much more harmful smoking habit. For those diabetics who do not smoke, although there is relatively little evidence suggesting that vaping would be particularly harmful to a diabetic over anyone else, we could not in good conscience encourage them to begin. Vaping will not bring a diabetic any benefits to their condition, whilst we know for certain that any kind of regular nicotine intake will make their condition actively worse. To conclude, vaping and diabetes is a question that has few satisfying answers, with much more study being needed before any particular truth can be determined. When considering an unknown factor in relation to a serious, widespread health condition, we would always encourage caution and consultation with a medical professional.