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UR studies look at the link between vaping and 'mental fog'


Two new studies from the University of Rochester Medical Center have uncovered an association between vaping and what researchers call ‘mental fog.’ 

According to the studies, both adults and children who vape were more likely to report difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions than their peers who don’t smoke or vape. Researchers said that it also appeared that kids were more likely to experience mental fog if they started vaping before the age of 14.

Dongmei Li is an associate professor at URMC and authored the study.

She noted that while e-cigarettes lack many of the dangerous compounds found in regular cigarettes, both deliver the same amount or even more nicotine.

“Nicotine is kind of associated with some cognitive complaints; studies have found smoking associated with cognitive complaints,” said Li. She also pointed out that, “Our studies add to growing evidence that vaping should not be considered a safe alternative to tobacco smoking."

The studies, published in the journals Tobacco Induced Diseases and Plos One, analyzed over 18,000 middle and high school student responses to the National Youth Tobacco Survey and more than 886,000 responses to the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System phone survey from U.S. adults.

Li cautioned that more study is needed to make the connection between vaping and mental fog. She said that while the recent studies clearly show an association between vaping and mental function, it’s also possible that people who have some of those mental fog issues are more likely to smoke or vape, possibly because they think it will help improve their mental clarity.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.