The impacts of smoking on the human body are far-reaching and well understood by most. The harmful chemicals found in cigarette smoke alongside the nicotine we crave are responsible for a massive range of potential conditions that can damage your body anywhere from head to toe.
With vaping being positioned as the go-to alternative by anti-smoking and healthcare experts alike, lot’s of people still have questions about vaping’s safety and whether or not it can harm us in the way tobacco smoke does.
The good news for current or potential vapers, is that all the evidence to date strongly suggests that vaping poses considerably less harm than smoking. As far back as 2015, Public Health England released the first in what would become and 8-part annual series of e-cigarette evidence reviews. The official conclusion drawn back then was that vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking cigarettes. Evidence in the years since has only added credibility to that statement.
Despite this widely accepted harm reduction, switching to vaping still raises a few regular questions. Limited long-term study data and a lack of proper education about vaping have understandably made the public curious about the health impacts vaping might have. This has begun to extend to younger audiences in the wake of the disposable vaping boom which has caused a number of new problems for the industry, primarily a steep uptake in under-18s trying or taking up regular vaping.
Partly as a result of the youth uptake, we are beginning to see public interest in questions surrounding vaping’s potential impact on sexual development. Namely, “will vaping make my boobs smaller”. While this could refer to general growth and development in younger people, this is also a question that could easily apply to anyone who has made the switch to vaping and noticed a change in breast size.
Smoking, Vaping, and Breast Size
It’s important to remember that other than nicotine, the similarity between cigarette smoke and e-cig vapour is pretty minimal. From higher temperature smoke to an additional 7000 chemicals, many of which are carcinogenic, tobacco smoke’s additional nasties are the source of a number of the worst issues caused by the habit.
Vaping by comparison doesn’t have these harmful by-products, however it is not risk-free and nicotine by itself can trigger some of the issues that may lead you to notice a change in your breast size or other aesthetic challenges. You can learn more about nicotine’s impact on both our physical and mental health in our guide: Nicotine & Health.
While there is little evidence linking vaping directly with breast size change, there are a number of potential indirect factors to note that can lead to changes in your body, including your breasts.
Nicotine, Appetite Suppression, and weight loss
Regardless of whether you smoke or vape, nicotine is a natural appetite suppressant. Most people will be familiar with the old-school idea that smoking was good for keeping you skinny.
While you absolutely should not use smoking or vaping to help achieve your weight loss goals, especially if you have never done either before, nicotine’s influence here is undeniable. There is quite a lot of data available which highlights the correlation between smoking and losing weight.
Of course, losing weight means your chest will shrink, or change shape in other ways – but it isn’t unique to vaping, this is just one of the effects nicotine has on our bodies.
If you are concerned about significant weight loss, there may be other medical factors beyond nicotine at play – please always speak to your healthcare professional in these circumstances.
If however you have just noticed some unwanted weight loss, you can modify your vaping or smoking habits to ensure they don’t interfere with your mealtimes. While not ideal in any case, it’s better to supress your appetite by vaping when you might only have a packet of crisps, rather than undereating during or skipping main meals.
Smoking, Vaping, and Stress
One of the mean tricks about nicotine is the fact it lets us believe it is relaxing us when we consume it. In truth, the burst of satisfaction we get is down to the big dopamine hit we get as the nicotine stimulates it’s production in a major way.
In fact, nicotine gives us such a big dopamine hit, it forms the famously powerful cravings that form one of the most invasive parts of nicotine addiction. When we can’t get it, our bodies miss that high so much it actually leads to significant stress.
That’s the trick – the only reason it feels relaxing to smoke, is because it has made us so dependent our bodies become stressed without it. It creates the stress it ‘cures’.
The reason this is linked to breast size change, is because stress results in higher production of cortisol. This hormone causes you to store fat in your breasts.
In this way, smoking or vaping could actually make your boobs bigger – although in a very unpleasant way.
Smoking, Vaping, and Skin Ageing
While not guaranteed to impact breast size, there is a very good chance that the effects of premature skin ageing could lead you to believe there has been a change.
This issue is far more likely to be severe in smokers vs vapers, however vaping is not completely innocent here either because of its nicotine content.
Premature skin ageing can be triggered by three main factors:
- Tobacco smoke is very hot, hotter in most cases than vapour from an e-cig. The heat combined with the many harmful chemicals present has a very drying effect on your epidermis (skin). This is because it struggles to retain moisture when it is exposed to cigarette smoke on a very regular basis. This also effects your face, typically resulting in far more wrinkles.
- Smoking and vaping both cause vasoconstriction because nicotine causes our blood vessels to constrict, reducing in size and increasing your blood pressure. This effect is worse in smokers because of the additional impact of the harmful chemicals which are not present in vapour. With repeated constriction, blood flow to the skin is reduced, starving it of both oxygen and nutrients. This leads to wrinkles, sagging, and a less-than-rosy pale sallow skin tone.
- Smoking can lead to overproduction of a hormone that breaks down collagen. Collagen is responsible for repairing skin and keeping it elastic, so without it, you might notice your breasts and more sag or appear to shrink.
Smoking and Ptosis
Ptosis of the breasts is the medical name for sagging. It’s not a pleasant subject for many, with sagging having very negative effects on one’s own body confidence.
Smoking is a key factor in ptosis, or breast sagging, as it breaks down the elastin protein in skin, which is necessary for giving support and a more youthful appearance. With both the vital elements of elastin and collagen under attack, smokers really do run the risk of a prematurely droopy bust.
The other, less obvious reason for breast sagging in smokers is again nicotine acting as an appetite suppressant and also increasing the body’s metabolic rate, meaning that calories are burned up more quickly. Studies have shown that when people quit smoking, they typically gain around 2 to 3kg in weight.
Either way, a woman who continually starts and stops her smoking habit, is likely to experience rapid weight gain and loss in a similar manner to a yo-yo dieter. This is bad news for her breasts, as the delicate skin supporting them will be overly stretched.
Using vaping as an alternative would be useful in these cases as it would remove the harmful chemicals from the equation, reducing pressure on the skin, while still delivering nicotine that should keep your appetite regulated.
This is a nasty condition that – thankfully for vapers – is uniquely caused by smoking.
Essentially the ducts beneath the nipple become infected. This can lead to a non-cancerous lump forming behind the nipple, soreness, redness and an increased temperature. This can lead to weeping around the infected area, and even nipple inversion.
Smokers carry an increased risk of periductal mastitis because the harmful by-products in tobacco smoke damage the ducts when they are inhaled and travel through the body.
If you are concerned you may have periductal mastitis, consult your GP, who will probably refer you to a breast clinic. Treatment includes antibiotics, over-the-counter pain relief such as paracetamol, aspirating the pus if necessary, and potentially surgery to remove the affected duct if the infection doesn’t clear up.
In the event you were to undergo a microdochectomy (surgical removal of the problematic duct/s), continued smoking could also slow down the healing process.
Is Vaping Better Than Smoking for Breast Health?
Ultimately yes, vaping poses a far lower risk of breast related issues. However, vaping can make your boobs smaller, just not directly.
As we have explored, weight loss due to nicotine intake is a big factor in shrinkage linked to vaping, however smoking brings far more damage to the table that can lead to all manor of changes to your chest.
If you are a smoker, it is wise to quit, not just for the sake of your health, but also for the overall appearance of your breasts and décolletage. Vaping is one of the best ways you can do this – while not risk-free, it offers one of the biggest harm reduction steps you can take without quitting cold-turkey.
Learn more about whether vaping is the alternative for you in our impartial guide: Finding the Right Alternative.