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Recent Study Links Vaping and E-Cigarette use to Several Health Risks?

male and e-cigarretteA recent study conducted at the Karolinska Institute, a medical university in Stockholm, has opened up the conversation about the relative safety of vaping, or smoking e-cigarettes. The Karolinska Institute recruited 15 volunteers who had never smoked e-cigarettes. After running a series of tests, they found that 30 minutes after vaping, the participants had experienced a significant increase in blood pressure, heart rate and arterial stiffness. (Source)

The participants who smoked e-cigarettes without nicotine did not experience the same side effects.

The vaping industry claims that traditional cigarette smokers will be at a lower health risk by switching to the electronic, nicotine-producing cigarettes. And while that is probably true, what about the children and teens and adults who have been lured in by advertising and the desire to fit in with this cool trend? If we’re comparing risks for those who have never smoked versus those using traditional tobacco products we’ve got to talk about varying degrees of what’s ‘safe’.

The Swedish study acknowledges that the results are preliminary, “…but in this study we found there was a significant increase in heart rate and blood pressure in the volunteers who were exposed to e-cigarettes containing nicotine. Arterial stiffness increased around three-fold in those who were exposed to nicotine-containing e-cigarettes compared with the nicotine-free group.”

Dr. Tim Chico, a Reader in Cardiovascular Medicine & consultant cardiologist at the University of Sheffield, responded to the study results, pointing out the health risks relative to the use of traditional tobacco.

“However, the key question is whether they are as harmful as conventional cigarettes, and this seems very unlikely, particularly if they are used as a bridge to quitting all cigarettes completely.”

This debate surfaces every time a new study on the safety of e-cigarettes is released. Dr. Norman Edelman, a senior scientific advisor to the American Lung Association, feels that we should be focusing on the effects of e-cigarettes on the cardiovascular system, therefore placing greater emphasis on the results of this recent study. He notes that more smokers die from cardiovascular disease than from lung disease. Edelman reminds us that the American Lung Association has not endorsed the use of e-cigarettes for smoking cessation, adding that e-cigarettes have not been tested or approved by the FDA for smoking cessation.

I think Dr. Steven Schroeder, a professor of health and health care and director of the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center at the University of California, San Francisco states the dilemma quite well.  “The real question is how much worse is vaping than not using an e-cigarette, and how much better is it than smoking regular cigarettes”, Schroeder said. (WebMD)

Schroeder, like Edelman, is not an advocate of e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool. And he points out that the e-cigs should only be used by those who are trying to quit.

E-cigarettes contain nicotine, often in unregulated, unknown levels. And what we do know for a fact is that nicotine is addictive. We can debate the lower health risks of e-cigarettes as compared to tobacco cigarettes but we have to take into consideration the absence of regulatory guidelines, and the audience being targeted by e-cigarette manufacturers. E-cigarettes are marketed to and used by kids—as young as middle school.

Vaping is trendy and with the use of candy-flavored additives kids can easily believe that vaping is designed for them, because what adult seeks out bubble-gum, or cotton-candy flavored cigarettes? They are completely unaware of the dangers to their hearts and lungs from the vaping products and the nicotine contained in them. These are new smokers; they’re not trying to kick a nicotine addiction. Any study that says e-cigarettes are safer than traditional cigarettes is irrelevant when discussing first time smokers—whatever the age. We’re engaged in a comparative conversation that fails to account for the most vulnerable and growing number of people using e-cigarettes.  This is really where the real problem lies.

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