Electronic cigarettes or e-cigs, in short, are a very popular alternative to tobacco smoking. Although e-cigs garner a lot of praises from its users, other people including some experts are skeptical. It is because e-cigs have previous track records for increasing health risks. Now, a recent study1 looks at the dangers of e-cig flavors that may induce damage on blood vessels.
During the recent years, there is increased in the use of e-cigs due to a wide variety of flavors. Moreover, e-cig users have this perception that vaping e-cigs is less harmful than smoking traditional combustible tobacco.
However, the new study in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology finds flavoring chemicals in e-cigs may be toxic to the cells. Particularly, it impacts the blood vessel lining, which could be an early warning for developing heart disease.
Our data suggest that short-term exposure of endothelial cells to flavoring compounds used in tobacco products have adverse effects on endothelial cell phenotype that may have relevance to cardiovascular toxicity.
What Is Wrong With E-Cig Flavors?
The researchers looked at the nine widely used chemicals in e-cig flavoring found in brands like hooka, cigarillos, and little cigars. These popular e-cig flavors include the following;
- Mint (menthol)
- Burnt flavor (acetylpyridine)
- Vanilla (vanillin)
- Cinnamon (cinnamaldehyde)
- Clove (eugenol)
- Butter (diacetyl)
- Strawberry (dimethylpyrazine)
- Banana (isoamyl acetate)
- Spicy cooling (eucalyptol)
During the test, these flavors have been found to have short-term effects on endothelial cells. These are the cells found in the lining of the blood vessels similar to those found inside the heart.
Moreover, the researchers have found all nine e-cig flavors to be detrimental to the blood vessel cells. During the test at the highest level, all flavorings cause impairment in the production of nitric oxide production within the cells.
Although this laboratory test has been done on cultures or outside the body, the results are worth considering. Furthermore, some e-cig flavors like clove, cinnamon, menthol, vanillin and burnt flavorings have shown higher levels of inflammatory effect while lowering nitric oxide levels.
Nitric oxide plays a vital role in inhibiting clotting and inflammation. It also regulates the blood vessels and provides the ability to respond and widen to provide better blood flow.
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.
She also adds that a loss of nitric oxide and increase in inflammation are among the early signs towards the development of heart disease. Among the common heart problems that may arise include stroke and heart attacks.
Our findings suggest that these flavoring additives may have serious health consequences.
Earlier Study Supports Negative Impact of E-Cigs
In a 2017 animal study2 on e-cigarettes, researchers say that the pharmacology and toxicology of nicotine in animals contribute to acute cardiovascular events especially on smokers with heart problems.
Additionally, in that same study, the researchers say there is evidence that some smokers have successfully quit smoking using e-cigs. However, the role of e-cigarettes in smoking cessation has not yet been established.
Nevertheless, e-cigarettes may be helpful for smokers who want to quit smoking. However, they should consider e-cigs as a tool for quitting smoking completely instead of using it as an alternative to tobacco.
There is a big difference between considering it as a tool or alternative. When one considers it as an alternative, it simply means quitting smoking or vaping is not an absolute option. On the other hand, using it as a tool allows one to gradually decrease the frequency of smoking or vaping and eventually quit it completely.
If you are among the millions of smokers who want to completely quit smoking, and interested in using an e-cigarette, use it wisely.