In a new study, researchers have found the damage e-cigarettes cause to the brain, heart, blood vessels and lungs.
They have issued a stark warning about the dangers of e-cigarettes, particularly for young people.
The research was conducted by a team at the University Medical Centre Mainz in Mainz, Germany and elsewhere.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 3.6 million children in the US use e-cigarettes, with a jump of 78%, from 11.7% to 20.8%, among US high school students reporting e-cigarette use from 2017 to 2018.
And in the UK, 1.6% of those aged 11-18 use e-cigarettes more than once a week, compared with 0.5% in 2015.
Vaping, which was actually intended as an aid to help smokers quit, developed into a trend among young people in the US, leading to nicotine addiction, even among those who had not smoked before.
The team examined the effect of e-cigarette vapor on blood flow in the brachial artery in the upper arm in 20 healthy smokers before they vaped an e-cigarette and then 15 minutes afterward. They also measured how stiff the artery became.
In addition, they exposed 151 mice to cigarette vapor over one, three or five days for 20 minutes six times a day.
They found that just one vaping episode increased heart rates and caused the arteries to stiffen and the inner lining of the arteries, the endothelium, to stop working properly in the smokers.
The endothelium is responsible for maintaining the correct dilation and constriction of blood vessels protects tissues from toxic substances and regulates inflammation and blood clotting processes.
Endothelial dysfunction is involved in the development of the cardiovascular disease.
Results from the mice showed that an enzyme called NOX-2 was responsible for damage to blood vessels, including those in the lungs and the brain, as a result of e-cigarette vapor.
NOX-2 is involved in the body’s defenses against bacteria and in a process called oxidative stress—an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body.
Mice that were not able to produce NOX-2 were protected from the damaging effects of vaping.
The researchers also found that mice that were treated with macitentan (a drug used for treating endothelial dysfunction, increased blood pressure in the vessels and lungs and oxidative stress) or bepridil (used for treating oxidative stress and cell death in cases of high blood pressure, angina or chest pain) did not show signs of endothelial dysfunction, oxidative stress or inflammation.
The beneficial effects of these drugs suggested a central role of a chemical in the body called endothelin 1, which is involved in narrowing of the arteries, and a protein called FOXO-3, which protects against oxidative stress.
The team says e-cigarettes were so dangerous, as well as addictive, that countries should consider banning them, the action that countries such as India, Brazil, Singapore, Mexico, and Thailand have already taken.
They say that governments should prevent young people from having access to tobacco products, tax them heavily, curb the marketing of tobacco products, educate teenagers and their families about the dangers of tobacco products and intensify research into the adverse health consequences of vaping.
One author of the study is Professor Thomas Münzel from the Department of Cardiology.
The study is published in the European Heart Journal.
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