Evidence of the hazards of electronic cigarettes is mounting, with researchers now warning that vaping could be bad for the heart.
HealthDay News reported that a recent study determined there is an increased risk of damage to the interior lining of blood vessels. The deterioration can lead to cardiovascular disease.
As most people who have tried to stop smoking will attest, nicotine is extremely addictive. The drug creates physical and psychological dependency. Quitting frequently causes withdrawal symptoms.
That is a major reason that e-cigarette sales are booming. Smokers hope that by switching to vaping they can eventually break free of nicotine’s powerful grip. Surveys show that about 70 percent of smokers want to quit. They know the habit raises their blood pressure, which elevates the odds of having a heart attack or stroke. Using tobacco is also a leading cause of cancer.
Health authorities are particularly concerned about how popular vaping has become popular with young people, even though only adults may legally purchase the products. According to the Federal Drug Administration, more than 3.5 million Americans under the age of 18 used e-cigarettes in 2018. Twenty percent of high school students say they have vaped.
What Scientific Studies Reveal
In May 2019, the Journal of the American College of Cardiology published an article detailing the findings of a clinical trial. In a laboratory, researchers grew endothelial cells, which occur in the walls inside blood vessels.
E-cigarette vapors either killed the cells or harmed their DNA. There was an impairment of the cells’ ability to generate new blood vessels and help heal injuries. The discoveries suggested that the smoke could trigger strokes as well as heart disease, according to lead researcher Dr. Joseph Wu, who heads the Stanford University Cardiovascular Institute.
He pointed out that although e-cigarettes do not have the carcinogens found in regular tobacco products, they still pose a threat to the cardiovascular system. Wu explained that endothelial cells are crucial in keeping blood pressure under control. When they are compromised, cholesterol plaques accumulate in the lining. That narrows the space within arteries, sparking hypertension and heightening the likelihood of suffering a stroke.
The cells the researchers used came from blood samples extracted from five people who smoked tobacco, five nonsmokers, two e-cigarette users, and two others who both smoked tobacco and vaped. Researchers subjected the cells to six kinds of e-cigarette vapors.
Cinnamon- and menthol-flavored products did more damage than those that taste like caramel or vanilla. The federal Food and Drug Administration has approved the flavorings for eating, but not for smoking.
The vapor contains nicotine and other ingredients that can kill endothelial cells, or cause inflammation and oxidative stress, according to the study.
Additional E-Cigarette Dangers
The study was just the most recent clinical trial exposing the risks of vaping. Previous researchers have pointed out that in addition to the nicotine and flavorings, e-cigarettes feature toxic chemicals. More clinical trials are needed to fully understand how these components affect the human body.
Some vapers inhale more nicotine than traditional tobacco smokers because they use extra-stength e-cigarette cartridges. This raises questions as to the technology’s value as a smoking-cessation method. In one study, most of the volunteers kept smoking regular cigarettes while also vaping.
Experts worry that the public acceptance of e-cigarettes encourages people to use the products, and makes smokers less likely to give up nicotine entirely. One of the appeals of switching to vaping is that it is cheaper than buying tobacco. It also tastes better, which might encourage excessive use; and does not stink like regular cigarettes.
Despite those advantages, vapers would be wise to stay abreast of the research and make wise decisions. Their health, and perhaps their lives, may be at stake.