According to new laboratory research, flavor additives used in electronic cigarettes and related tobacco products could impair blood vessel function and may be an early indicator of heart damage.
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Nine chemical flavorings – menthol (mint), acetylpyridine (burnt flavor), vanillin (vanilla), cinnamaldehyde (cinnamon), eugenol (clove), diacetyl (butter), dimethylpyrazine (strawberry), isoamyl acetate (banana) and eucalyptol (spicy cooling) – which are widely used in e-cigarettes, hookah, little cigars and cigarillos were tested for their short-term effects on endothelial cells, the cells which line the blood vessels and the inside of the heart.
Researchers found all nine flavors were dangerous to cells in the laboratory at the highest levels tested and all the flavorings impaired nitric oxide production in endothelial cells in culture (outside of the body). Several of the flavorings – menthol, clove, vanillin, cinnamon and burnt flavoring – resulted in higher levels of an inflammatory marker and lower levels of nitric oxide, a molecule that inhibits inflammation and clotting, and regulates vessels’ ability to widen in response to greater blood flow.