After measuring the participants' blood vessel function, the researchers found that participants who had switched from cigarettes to e-cigarettes and those who were dual users had arteries that were just as stiff as the traditional cigarette users. (Shutterstock/Lifestyle discover)
New US research has found that smoking e-cigarettes could cause the same damage to the arteries and blood vessels as smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes.
Carried out by researchers at Boston University School of Medicine, the new study looked at more than 400 men and women aged 21 to 45 who were free of heart disease and any heart disease risk factors.
The group included 94 non-smokers, 285 tobacco cigarette smokers, 52 dual smokers who used both tobacco cigarettes and e-cigarettes, and 36 e-cigarette users who were all former cigarette smokers.
After measuring the participants' blood vessel function, the researchers found that participants who had switched from cigarettes to e-cigarettes and those who were dual users had arteries that were just as stiff as the traditional cigarette users.
The researchers also found that the cells that line the blood vessels, called endothelial cells, were equally damaged in all of the smokers, no matter whether they smoked e-cigarettes, tobacco cigarettes or both.
Read also: 'No doubt' e-cigarettes harmful: WHO
The findings, which were published today in the Journal of the American Heart Association, also revealed that traditional cigarette smokers, including those who smoked them in conjunction with e-cigarettes, were more likely to be older than those who only used e-cigarettes or who didn't smoke at all. E-cigarette users were more likely to be younger, male and white.
"Many people believe e-cigarettes are safer than combustible cigarettes. In fact, most e-cigarette users say the primary reason they use e-cigarettes is because they think e-cigarettes pose less of a health risk," said study author Jessica L. Fetterman, PhD. "Meanwhile, the evidence from scientific studies is growing that e-cigarettes might not be the safer alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes when it comes to heart health. Our study adds to that evidence."
"Stiffening of the arteries can cause damage to the small blood vessels, including capillaries, and puts additional stress on the heart, all of which can contribute to the development of heart disease," continued Fetterman.
"The endothelial cells from e-cigarette users or dual users produced less of the heart-protective compound nitric oxide, compared to non-tobacco users. Their cells also produced more reactive oxygen species, which cause damage to the parts of cells such as DNA and proteins," Fetterman said. "Our study results suggest there is no evidence that the use of e-cigarettes reduces cardiovascular injury, dysfunction or harm associated with the use of combustible tobacco products."
The researchers added that further research is now needed to investigate if vascular damage from e-cigarettes changes over a longer period of time.
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