Flavored vapes may have the same effect on cells as cigarettes

Flavored vapes may have the same effect on cells as cigarettes

E-cigarettes may seem like a good alternative to regular cigarettes, but a new study by the American Heart Association shows that flavoured additives used in it can impair blood vessel function and lead to heart damage. Earlier this year, a study of 70,000 people suggested that using an e-cigarette daily could double the risk of heart attack.

The new study was published online June 14 in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology.

"Increased inflammation and a loss of nitric oxide are some of the first changes to occur leading up to cardiovascular disease and events like heart attacks and stroke, so they are considered early predictors of heart disease", Fetterman added.

Endothelial cells (the cells lining blood vessels inside the heart) were isolated from smokers and non-smokers. And while some of the trendiest vape juice flavors-like unicorn milk, beetle juice, and lemon twist-weren't specifically tested, that doesn't mean they're safe (especially since every single flavor researchers did test were associated with some level of risk). In May, a study presented at the American Thoracic Society's annual meeting found that cinnamaldehyde (cinnamon) flavoring appears to inhibit a key mechanism of the lungs' antibacterial defense mechanism.

Study limitations, the researchers noted, included that the flavoring compounds were suspended in media without heating or the addition of other typical electronic liquid constituents, such as the solvents propylene glycol and glycerol.

"Our findings show that flavoring additives themselves were directly toxic to blood vessels and have adverse effects that may have relevance to cardiovascular toxicity long-term similar to combustible cigarettes", explained corresponding author Jessica Fetterman, PhD assistant professor of medicine at BUSM.

"That's really the big concern, that kids are going to become hooked on [these products]" said Fetterman.

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Because e-cigarettes have only existed since 2007, little is known about their long-term effects.

Three flavorings were tested when heated, to mimic what happens in e-cigarettes.

A 2015 study found that many students say they've tried e-cigarettes in part because of the flavors in the liquids.

Scientists have been sprinting to determine the short and long term effects of vaping and e-cigarette use at the rate that these products are being adopted among teens and young adults.

Fetterman hopes her research motivates public officials to follow the lead of San Francisco and outlaw tobacco and nicotine products with flavorings.

It states that nicotine-containing e-cigarettes are tobacco products that should be subject to all the laws applying to those products. Flavored tobacco products are a major driver of experimentation among youth.

'"Especially because numerous flavored tobacco products are very clearly targeting kids".

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