The Pulmonary Perils of Vaping

By Scott LaFee

April 15, 2020 4 min read

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.


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

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

20: percentage increase from 2014

Source: Health Care Cost Institute

Doc Talk

Schizophasia: a neurological symptom where the patient utters a confused or unintelligible mixture of seemingly random words or phrases, i.e. a word salad

Mania of the Week

Hypomania: an affective disorder characterized by excessive elation and overactivity, a form of insomnia

Never Say Diet

The Major League Eating speed-eating record for rice balls is 20 pounds in 30 minutes, held by Takeru Kobyashi. Warning: Most of these records are held by professional eaters and the rest by people who really should find something better to do.

Food for Thought

Shellac derives from the resinous material secreted by the lac bug, much like honey comes from a bee. It is used to make liquid shellac, a brush-on colorant and wood finish, and is found in shampoos, aluminum foil and lipstick. It is also used as a food glaze to provide shininess, particularly in candies, fruit, gum and coffee beans.

Best Medicine

And the Lord said to John, "Come forth to receive eternal life."

But John came in fifth and won a toaster.


"I had to wait 110 years to become famous. I want to enjoy it as long as possible." — Jeanne Louise Calment, who died in 1997 at the age of 122

Medical History

This week in 1923, insulin became generally available for diabetics' use. It was first discovered in 1922.

Sum body

This is your brain in numbers:

3: average weight in pounds

60: percentage comprised of fat cells

23: wattage produced when awake

20: percentage of total body oxygen consumed

100,000: Miles of blood vessels therein


"I See Dumb People." — Micah G. Green (1985-2001)

To find out more about Scott LaFee and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Photo credit: haiberliu at Pixabay

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