Nitric oxide is a key component that lowers inflammation across the body, prevents clotting, and ensures that blood vessels are flexible enough to withstand greater blood flow.
Short-term exposure to certain flavorings used in electronic cigarettes and other tobacco products proved toxic to endothelial cell function in laboratory studies, suggesting that the flavor additives could impair blood vessel function over time and contribute to heart damage.
Scientists have been sprinting to determine the short and long term effects of vaping and e-cigarette use at the rate that these products are being adopted among teens and young adults.
Because e-cigarettes have only existed since 2007, little is known about their long-term effects.
There is a public perception that flavored e-cigarettes are harmless or at least less harmful than traditional cigarettes, but researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine say e-cigs may pose significant health risks.
She explained: "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". Although numerous flavorings used to produce the flavors have been determined to be safe in food products, the long-term safety for inhalation into the lungs is not known.
After being exposed to the cells for just 90 minutes, all nine flavors-menthol (mint), acetylpyridine (burnt flavor), vanillin (vanilla), cinnamaldehyde (cinnamon), eugenol (clove), diacetyl (butter), dimethylpyrazine (strawberry), isoamyl acetate (banana) and eucalyptol (spicy cooling)-were unsafe to the epithelial cells and caused cell deathwhen used at the highest levels. At lower levels, cinnamon, clove, strawberry, banana and spicy cooling had a similar effect. However, lower concentrations of selected flavors (vanillin, menthol, cinnamaldehyde, eugenol, and acetylpyridine) induced both inflammation and impaired A23187-stimulated nitric oxide production.
Fetterman agreed, and said that the next step will be to directly examine e-cigarette users. They also found that endothelial cells from smokers showed the same toxicity as those treated with flavoring chemicals.
"While e-cigarettes contain nicotine, they seem to be far less addictive than cigarettes".
"Most of the harmful chemicals in cigarette smoke aren't present in e-cigarettes".
"That's really the big concern, that kids are going to become hooked on [these products]" said Fetterman. Flavored tobacco products are a major driver of experimentation among youth.
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