E‐cigarettes (also known as electronic cigarettes, vape pens, e‐cigars, or vaping devices) are electronic, nicotine-delivery systems.
They generate a mixture of flavored liquids and nicotine that converts into a fine spray and is inhaled by the user.
The differences between brands and flavors of e‐cigarettes are due to the concentration of nicotine present, different additives, flavors and even the battery voltage of the device.
There are design specifics for each type of e-cigarette device which affect the level of the ingredients being smoked and put out in the environment, even for non-users.
And that’s what makes it more difficult to assess the health consequences.
Although the long‐term health effects of e‐cigarettes have not yet been documented in humans; the short‐term negative effects have been well documented by researchers.
Results of the research about your heart and e-cigarettes, as well as their effects on other biological systems:
To date, most reported health effects have involved the pulmonary (lungs) tract.
- Recent clinical and animal studies showed that both active and passive/e‐cigarette inhalation can cause irritation of both the upper and lower respiratory tract.
As for their effect on other systems:
- E‐cigarettes also reduce, in mice, the efficiency of the immune system, increasing susceptibility to infection with Influenza A and Streptococcus Pneumonia.
As for the central nervous system:
- E‐cigarettes may alter brain functions, which affects mood, learning abilities, memory, and could even induce drug dependence in both humans and animals.
- They may also directly damage neurons and cause tremor and muscle spasms.
The potential to cause cancer, most commonly seen in the lungs, mouth, and throat, is another important aspect of their negative consequences.
- This is linked to the substances found in the e-liquids, including some of the flavoring agents used.
One study found that after being heated and vaporized, one of the substances found in all e-cigarette solutions (propylene-glycol) may transform to a substance called propylene oxide, which is a Class 2B carcinogen.
In other words, a substance capable of causing cancer in living tissue.
- Other negative effects include nausea, vomiting, as well as eye, mouth, and throat irritation.
Additionally, it can cause “contact dermatitis” a skin condition in which it becomes red, swollen, and sore, sometimes with small blisters.
- This condition is a result of direct irritation of the skin by an external agent, both to the smoker and any bystanders.
- Allergic reactions have also been noted.
AND THEN THERE’S YOUR HEART…
The scientists theorized that acute and chronic exposure to the e-cigarettes vapors would cause a level of cardiovascular disturbances comparable to that of conventional cigarettes.
E-cigarettes should not be seen as safe.
The team examined:
- Four female mice that were exposed to e-cigarettes once, for 5 minutes
- Six female mice that were exposed to e-cigarettes for 4 hours every day over 5 days per week, for 8 months.
They used cappuccino flavored e-cigarettes which contained 18 milligrams of nicotine per milliliter.
- The researchers then examined the diameter of their arteries and the ability of the blood vessels to widen and contract, as ours do to allow blood flow.
Using a special technique, the researchers then evaluated the ability of the arterioles (small branches of the arteries leading into the capillaries) to react.
- The team also looked at aortic stiffness:
Aortic stiffness is a sign of aging, and a classic cardiovascular marker of heart disease in which the aorta, the heart’s main artery, loses elasticity.
- The study found that within an hour of being exposed to 5 minutes of e-cigarette vapor, the arteries narrowed by 31 percent.
Chronic, long-term exposure also resulted in aortic stiffness, which was 2 1/2 times higher in that group, compared with the control group, which was exposed only to filtered air.
- In addition, acute exposure also resulted in a 9 % percent decrease in how much the arteries opened.
They conclude that e-cigarettes have serious adverse consequences on heart health.
Specifically: Exposure to e-cigarettes seems to bring about the premature aging of the blood vessels.
This data provides the first evidence showing that:
- A single exposure has negative effects on vascular function, and that chronic exposure significantly accelerates the age-associated increase in aortic stiffness.
- It significantly impairs the opening of the aorta, which is the main vessel that carries blood to the body.
This is an important predictor of strokes and heart attacks.
Again, the researchers caution that e-cigarettes should by no means be viewed as safe and that they induce significant harmful, damaging effects on the central and peripheral blood vessels.
It’s important to understand that the harm related to e‐cigarette usage reaches further beyond “human beings” It includes fire hazards and explosions, an issue the public tends to overlook or underestimate.
In conclusion, there’s growing evidence that even short-term e‐cigarette exposure can wreak havoc on multiple biological systems, we just haven’t figured out the “mechanism” by which it’s caused…but we’re working on it!
And, while the long‐term effects haven’t been studied (yet), it’s not difficult to come to a reasonable conclusion that e‐cigarettes will likely cause more harm if used for extended periods.
And that will prompt the next investigation.
In case you missed it, here’s the link to Part One of this series