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The Pulmonary Perils of Vaping

Scott LaFee on

Vaping poses multiple health risks, not least among them addiction to nicotine.

But e-cigarettes also produce a host of dangerous chemicals including formaldehyde, benzene (found in car exhaust), heavy metals and acrolein, an herbicide.

These compounds are toxic to cells, and researchers are increasingly reporting heightened risk factors for lung disease. Doctors and epidemiologists have described rising cases of pulmonary disease among vapers -- and higher fatality rates. There's even a new name for e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated injury: EVALI. No age group is immune.

In a time when respiratory health is notably threatened by coronavirus, vaping sounds lot like the first line of the lament at the end of The Moody Blues' 1967 song "Nights in White Satin": "Breathe deep the gathering gloom."

Body of Knowledge

Your appendix sits at the junction of the small and large intestines. It's about the size of a pinky finger and squishy like a worm. Indeed, ancient Egyptians called it a worm when preparing mummies. Some medical tests describe the appendix as "vermiform" or wormlike.

 

No one knows exactly what the appendix does. One theory says it's a storehouse for good bacteria, restocking the digestive system after gastrointestinal illnesses. Charles Darwin thought it was vestigial, an unneeded organ from our past.

Counts

5,800: average health care spending in 2018, in American dollars

907: average out-of-pocket expenses, in dollars

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