Gary Brecka – Popcorn Lung & the Dangers of Vaping - Ascendment

Gary Brecka – Popcorn Lung & the Dangers of Vaping

Vaping has spread through the lungs of most of the Western world as young people see it as a more attractive alternative to smoking cigarettes. Human biologist and biohacker Gary Brecka says nicotine is “right up there with heroin in its level of addiction” – but just how bad is vaping and what are the dangers?

What’s in a Vape?

Just like cigarettes – vapes or e-cigarettes contain nicotine which is extracted from tobacco. Nicotine is highly addictive and makes people crave it. Research suggests that nicotine is as addictive as ‘hard drugs’ such as heroin. Vapes can contain more nicotine than a standard cigarette and you are able to buy extra strength cartridges with a higher concentration of nicotine.

In addition to nicotine, vapes contain flavorings and other chemicals. Johns Hopkins Medicine states that regular tobacco cigarettes contain 7,000 chemicals with many of them being toxic, however there is less research on what chemicals are being put into vapes.

In the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not begun reviewing any vapes or e-cigarettes or their ingredients. The FDA also hasn’t issued any standards on this category of products yet. This means there’s a massive gray around what chemicals manufacturers are putting into vapes. The American Lung Association states that in the little research that has been done on e-cigarettes there has been some unsettling findings. Carcinogens which are chemicals known to cause cancer were found to be present in vapes. Acrolein – a herbicide primarily used to kill weeds which can cause irreversible lung damage, and Diacetyl – a chemical linked to a lung disease called bronchiolitis obliterans aka "popcorn lung" were also found.

The Downfall of Smoking Cigarettes

Many moons ago smoking cigarettes was seen as ‘cool’, however laws began to be enforced and gone are the days of seeing someone smoke a cigarette in a restaurant in the US or UK. Gary Brecka states that: “When I was young everyone was smoking cigarettes, then it became really gross and uncool. But it’s super, super easy to vape.”

While people who smoked cigarettes might have thought they looked cool to their peers, there is an array of negatives when it comes to smoking combustible tobacco. The smell of smoke is potent and it’s difficult to do discreetly. The smell of smoke lingers in rooms and on clothes, and it makes your hands smell.

As laws on cigarettes tightened and disrupted the billion-dollar tobacco industry, this opened the door for a new generation of nicotine-based products. Tobacco companies and new opportunists brought vapes to market, and market these e-cigarettes as ‘safer’ than their standard, combustible counterparts.

The Rise of Vaping

As vapes were brought to market, many people were converted as they were convinced that vaping was safer than smoking standard cigarettes. The fact that e-cigarettes are more discreet and don’t make your hands and clothes smell is another perceived benefit. In addition, the bright colours and attractive scents made them even more accessible, especially to a younger market.

Gary Brecka says: “Now it’s just super easy and accessible…kids are starting to vape at 11 years old now.” The alluring scents, ease-of-use and the fact that you’re no longer smoking a demonized combustible cigarette lures users into thinking vapes are the safer option. Brecka says it’s “the delivery system is creating the damage… it’s the vehicle we’re using to get nicotine into kids.”

The fact is younger people believe vaping is a safer option to smoking cigarettes and the phenomenon is currently in its ‘cool phase’. Some people start vaping just to impress their peers. Gary Brecka continues: “It’s not really too taboo. You know ‘Blueberry Vape’ or ‘Pumpkin Spice Vape’, and they can just throw it in their bag. Mom and Dad don’t know their doing it. The whole house doesn’t stink.”

Forever Chemicals, Popcorn Lung & The Dangers of Vaping

Nicotine is extremely addictive with Gary Brecka stating that: “It’s really bad for your body. Nicotine is right up there with heroin in its level of addiction.” Research has found that nicotine poses an increased risk of cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal disorders. It an also impact the immune system and reproductive system.

Due to regulation being slow there is also a lot of uncertainty about the different chemicals being put into vapes and e-cigarettes. Brecka says: “Tobacco doesn’t come in ‘Pumpkin Spice’, so how are they creating these flavours? Well, that’s a chemical and some of these are ‘forever chemicals’”.

Forever chemicals is a nickname for chemicals that can remain in your body for the rest of your life and cause damage. Brecka continues: “Nicotine causes damage, but these forever chemicals can cause permanent damage.”

When referring to the forever chemicals in Vapes, Gary Brecka says they can cause something called ‘popcorn lung’. He continues: “You see respiratory disease in younger and younger ages now. Permanent respiratory disease.”

Alternatives to Vaping

The nicotine in standard cigarettes and vapes and e-cigarettes provides you with a quick hit of dopamine. Unfortunately, this hit doesn’t last long and it causes us to crave another cigarette or vape.

Luckily, there are far more healthier ways to release dopamine than through nicotine. Exercise is one of the best ways to release feel-good chemicals such as dopamine into the bloodstream. While Gary Brecka recommends cold water exposure. He says: “The cold plunge works great. You can replace that dopamine hit with a cold plunge. Go in a cold plunge for three minutes and see how better you feel for longer, and then you’ll have a new drug of choice.”


Vapes or e-cigarettes contain nicotine which is as addictive as hard drugs such as heroin. Vapes can contain a higher concentration of nicotine than standard cigarettes. In addition, there is a lot of uncertainty as to what chemicals are being put in vaping liquids. Researchers have found carcinogens which cause cancer as well as other dangerous chemicals.

This new wave of nicotine products are highly attractive to younger generations due to the ease-of-use and alluring colours, smells and flavors. However, there are increasing cases of people suffering from respiratory diseases such as ‘popcorn lung’ due to the chemicals and nicotine found in vapes.

Gary Brecka suggests finding a healthier alternative to vaping or smoking that will provide you with a boost of dopamine. He recommends using an ice bath, as the feel-good sensation will outweigh that of vaping and will also last longer.

Put down the vape! If you are struggling with stress, anxiety or depression our guide will teach you how to implement techniques and lifestyle changes to overcome them.

Read more: Gary Brecka's Approved Food List 

Read more: Gary Brecka – Pearls of Wisdom: Quotes, Advice and Motivation

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