- E-cigarettes can damage blood vessels and heart
- They can make drugs like cocaine seem pleasurable
- They do not help in quitting smoking
E-cigarette liquids which are sweetened with flavoring agents like clove or vanilla can damage blood vessels and heart. This is despite the fact that they don't contain nicotine. Researchers conducted a small examination wherein they scrutinized what happened in lab tests when they exposed endothelia cells - which line arteries and veins, as well as inside of the heart - to popular e-cigarette flavorings. Different doses and concentrations of 9 popular chemical flavors were tested, including cinnamon, banana, clove, butter, mint, eucalyptus, vanilla and strawberry. When smoked in high concentrations, all 9 flavors damaged cells in lab tests- Reuters reported researchers Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology. Of the 9 flavors, 5 impaired production of nitric oxide - a molecule which inhibits inflammation and clotting and also helps blood vessels widen in response to increased flow of blood. These 5 flavors were mint, clove, vanilla, cinnamon and burnt - which is used to impart a popcorn or tobacco-like flavor to foods.
Loss of nitric oxide has been associated with heart disease and can even lead to heart attacks and strokes. This observation is one of the first changes in blood vessels which can progress to heart disease. It serves as an early indicator of toxicity. The study suggests that flavoring additives can cause cardiovascular injuries on their own, in the absences of other combustion products.
E-cigarettes are being developed by some big US tobacco companies. They are powered by battery and feature a glowing tip and heating element which turns liquid nicotine and flavors into a cloud of vapor which people inhale.
Thus, even though e-liquids don't contain nicotine, lungs get exposed to chemicals in flavors when the vapor is inhaled. Even though most of the flavors are deemed safe for consumption, there have been researchers which claim that inhaling vapor from these chemicals can damage lungs.
As part of the current study, researchers tested cells from 9 non-smokers and 12 cigarette smokers. They also tested some commercially available endothelial cells from human hearts.
Also read: What Happens When You Quit Smoking
It was found that even before participants were exposed to chemical flavors; cells of tobacco smokers had already reduced ability to produce nitric oxide. Cells of non-smokers were found to have impaired nitric oxide production after they were exposed to chemical flavorings.
However, there are various limitations of the study. Apart from its small size, the study was not a controlled experiment which could tell how chemical flavorings can directly cause damage to the blood vessels or lead to heart problems.
The study does comprehensively tell that vaping is not any safer that smoking traditional cigarettes.
Read below to know other health hazards of e-cigarettes:
1. It is extremely harmful to smoke e-cigarettes during pregnancy as they can affect fetal development.
2. Flavorings or toxicants can be potentially harmful, as discussed above.
3. E-cigarettes side effects are such that they expose lungs to different substances. One of these substances is known as dicetyl - which can cause popcorn lung. Popcorn lung is a pretty severe and irreversible lung disease.
4. E-cigarettes side effects can also cause fatal poisoning.
5. People who want to quit smoking should not resort to e-cigarettes as an alternative as they are not going to be helpful.
6. Teenagers who use e-cigarettes are quite likely to start using regular tobacco as well.
7. Continuous use of nicotine can make other drugs such as cocaine seem more pleasurable.
8. People who begin smoking with e-cigarettes might later switch to smoking traditional cigarettes.
9. Vaping cannot be eliminated by second-hand smoking. Vaping releases carcinogenic emissions.
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