Though electronic cigarettes are preferred on the basis that they are not as carcinogenic as traditional cigarettes, a new study has revealed that flavours found in it can increase risks of stroke and heart disease.
According to researchers at Stanford University, flavoured “e-liquids” used in e-cigarettes, otherwise known as vapes, may damage the cells which line blood vessels, thus leading to cardiovascular disease.
For the study, the scientists tested six vape flavours, including fruit, tobacco flavours, cinnamon and menthol, on the cells which line blood vessels.
To understand the effects of these flavours on human cells, especially the arteries, the researchers removed the cells from the blood of patients and re-engineered it into cells which line the blood vessels.
To see how they might affect arteries, researchers took cells from the blood of patients and ‘reprogrammed’ them using chemicals in the lab into the cells which line blood vessels. This avoided painful surgery to remove the cells naturally.
After administering the flavours on the modified cells, the study found that flavoured e-liquids causes DNA damage, cell death and inflammation.
Published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology on Monday, May 27, findings of the study identified cinnamon and menthol flavours as having the highest harmful effects on cells, though these flavours do not even contain nicotine.
“Until now, we had no data about how these e-liquids affect human endothelial cells,” said Joseph Wu, led-researcher for the study, of the Stanford University School of Medicine.
“This study clearly shows that e-cigarettes are not a safe alternative to traditional cigarettes. When we exposed the cells to six different flavors of e-liquid with varying levels of nicotine, we saw significant damage.”
‘The cells were less viable in culture, and they began to exhibit multiple symptoms of dysfunction.”
On his part, Won Hee Lee, the study’s co-lead, of the University of Arizona, said that e-cigarettes are deceptive.
“When you’re smoking a traditional cigarette, you have a sense of how many cigarettes you’re smoking,” he said.
“But e-cigarettes can be deceptive. It’s much easier to expose yourself to a much higher level of nicotine over a shorter time period.
“And now we know that e-cigarettes are likely to have other significantly toxic effects on vascular function as well.”
“It’s important for e-cigarette users to realise that these chemicals are circulating within their bodies and affecting their vascular health.”
Findings of the research justify previous studies which stated that smokers of e-cigarettes are at a 70 per cent risk of stroke and heart attacks.
However, this new scientific enquiry is the first to specifically analyse the impact of e-liquids on cardiovascular cells.