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Fresh Evidence Shows Potentially Harmful Effects of E-cigarettes

E-cigarette is back in news! This time again for its harmful effects on human health. Usually considered as a safer and healthier alternative to conventional tobacco cigarettes, electronic cigarettes are not truly safe, warns a new study by University of Louisville scientists.

Using battery-powered vaporizers, or vaping as it is commonly called, is often used by people as the best and healthier way to try to quit smoking.

But e-cig is not as healthy as it is perceived, instead, the study cautions, it can speed up atherosclerosis, a disease of the arteries in which plaque builds up on the inner walls of arteries, leading to several cardiovascular ailments like heart attack, stroke and peripheral arterial disease, a condition which affects the arteries that carry blood to your head, organs, and limbs.

“Currently, we do not know whether e-cigarettes are harmful,” said Dr. Daniel J. Conklin of University of Louisville’s Division of Cardiovascular Medicine. “They do not generate smoke as do conventional cigarettes but they do generate an aerosol – the vapor – that alters indoor air quality and contains toxic aldehydes. We investigated the direct effects of these toxins on cardiovascular disease in the laboratory.”

In an experiment on mice, Conklin and colleagues tested the effects of various levels of exposure to e-cigarettes, tobacco smoke, nicotine, and smokeless tobacco or acrolein on the animals. They also exposed a group of mice to nicotine alone in order to figure out whether nicotine by itself had any ill-effect.

The research team found that exposure to tobacco smoke amplified the amount of atherosclerosis in mice while e-cigarette aerosol also increased the condition. What came as a shock for the team was that e-cigarette aerosol or smokeless tobacco exposure on their own increased atherosclerosis in the animal models.

The take away message from the findings is that most tobacco products may have cardiovascular-disease-causing potential.

Dr. Conklin said: “Somewhat surprising was the finding that either nicotine alone or acrolein alone at levels equivalent to those present in smokeless tobacco or mainstream smoke also increased atherosclerosis in mice.

“These findings indicate that multiple tobacco-derived constituents have cardiovascular disease-causing potential.”

Dr. Conklin and co-researchers presented their findings at the American Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. on Friday, Feb. 12. Dr. Conklin was among a three-member panel discussing “New and Emerging Tobacco Products: Biomarkers of Exposure and Injury.”

Earlier this month, a study by researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System had warned that vaping is toxic and can directly kill lung cells, causing weakening of the immune system.

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