Two related studies, one in humans and the other in rats, found that the cardiovascular effects of cigarettes and e-cigarettes are strikingly similar. Cigarette smoking and e-cigarette vaping are both known to cause endothelial dysfunction, the inability of the large blood vessels to open enough to supply sufficient blood to the heart and other tissues. This can be an early predictor of cardiovascular diseases.
Since e-cigarettes came on the market in 2008 there has been debate over whether they are healthier than traditional cigarettes. Research into the possible health impacts of e-cigarette use takes time and while that has been happening, we have seen a huge increase in the number of young people using and sadly becoming addicted to them.
“The goal of this project was to determine why a growing number of inhaled tobacco products, including combustible cigarettes, heated tobacco products and e-cigarettes, all impair endothelial function despite fundamental differences in these products,” said the lead researcher of both studies Matthew L. Springer, Ph.D., a professor of medicine in the division of cardiology at the University of California, San Francisco. “Thousands of chemicals have been identified in tobacco smoke, some of which are also present in e-cigarette aerosols, either as an original ingredient or as a chemical reaction product of the heating process. We sought to find which specific component of smoke or e-cigarette vapor may be responsible for interfering with blood vessels’ ability to function efficiently.”
“We were surprised to discover that it’s not a specific foreign material being inhaled that causes harmful cardiovascular effects – it’s the fact that some kind of irritant is being inhaled in the first place, regardless of what it was,” Springer said. “All inhaled products are likely to have similar harmful effects on vascular function.”
Springer noted that the lack of a specific toxin that accounts for vascular impairment means that regulatory agencies cannot rely on prohibiting specific ingredients to avoid adverse effects of inhaled products.
“It’s important for regulators, clinicians and the public to realize that vaping is not harmless,” Springer said. “Smoking and vaping can have similar harmful cardiovascular effects, but each condition causes some potentially harmful effects that the other does not. These differences indicate that dual product use, meaning smoking combustible cigarettes and also using e-cigarette products, may actually be worse for vascular health than either smoking or vaping alone.”
While many have long suspected e-cigarette use is bad for your health it is important to have research to back it up. We are hoping that with this new research decisionmakers at all levels will understand the need to regulate e-cigarettes in similar ways to traditional tobacco. It’s also important to restrict the use of added flavors in all tobacco products to reduce their attractiveness to, and eventual addiction by, youths. We have worked too hard and too long to tamp down traditional tobacco use to lose another generation (or more) to a new, highly addictive product.
To read more about the studies click here.
hero_image_alt_text===A picture of different nicotine products including cigarettes, e-cigarette and chew
thumbnail_alt_text===A picture of different nicotine products including cigarettes, e-cigarette and chew