A new research finds that inhaling flavored e-cigarettes, such as mint, vanilla, and cinnamon may harm the cells lining the inside of the heart and blood vessels.
The findings came as a result of a laboratory research done on widely used flavoring chemicals in e-cigarettes and their observed effects on endothelial cells.
Are E-Cigarettes Harmful?
Scientists know for sure that smoking tobacco, including traditional cigarettes, is very bad for people's health. What they don't know yet with certainty, however, is whether vaping or using e-cigarettes is also bad.
Previous reviews suggested that using e-cigarettes are less harmful than smoking actual cigarettes because they don't contain any tobacco and don't involve combustion. However, that does not mean that they are entirely harmless.
New Study: Widely Used Flavoring Chemicals
Now, in the new study published in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology on June 14, researchers found a link between widely used flavoring chemicals in e-cigarettes and the cardiovascular system.
In the study, the researchers collected endothelial cells from 21 individuals and exposed them to nine different flavoring chemicals. These flavorings include strawberry, banana, mint, butter, cinnamon, vanilla, clove, burnt flavor, and spicy cooling.
Among these individuals, nine of them were known to be non-smokers and 12 were known to be both non-menthol and menthol cigarette smokers.
The researchers found that all of the said flavors increased inflammation and slowed down the production of nitric oxide in the endothelial cells. Nitric oxide is the protective molecule responsible for dilating blood vessels and regulating blood flow.
What's more, the researchers also found that all flavors caused cell death when they were used at higher levels. However, spicy cooling, banana, strawberry, clove, and cinnamon also did so at lower levels, with strawberry being the deadliest.
"Increased inflammation and a loss of nitric oxide are some of the first changes to occur leading up to cardiovascular disease and events like heart attacks and stroke, so they are considered early predictors of heart disease," said Jessica L. Fetterman, an assistant professor of medicine from the Boston University School of Medicine in Massachusetts and lead author of the study.
Researchers added that the new study has its strengths as well as its limits. One of its strengths is that it involved directly testing the effects of just the flavorings at levels that would be reached inside the body.
Among its limits, on the other hand, are that it did not test most of the flavors by heating the same way it does in a vaping experience. Also, it did not include all the other chemicals that are found in e-cigarettes.
A Rising Epidemic Among The Youth
According to the U.S. Federal Food and Drug Administration, vaping has now become a national epidemic as it has surpassed statistics on the use of other tobacco products such as cigars, hookahs, and chewables.
A National Youth Tobacco Survey conducted between 2011 and 2015 revealed an increase of around 900 percent in the use of e-cigarettes, especially among high school students.