A new study reveals how e-cigarettes damage the brain, heart, lungs, and blood vessels. The findings have prompted cardiologists to issue a warning about the dangers of using them.
Lead author of the study Professor Thomas Münzel, of the Department of Cardiology of the University Medical Centre Mainz in Mainz, Germany hopes countries ban e-cigarettes because they are dangerous and addictive. India, Brazil, Singapore, Mexico and Thailand have already done so.
"We need to focus on the youth because this is by far the largest market," Professor Münzel told a news portal. Adding,"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 per cent, from 11.7 per cent to 20.8 per cent, among US high school students reporting e-cigarette use from 2017 to 2018. And in the UK, 1.6 per cent of those aged 11-18 use e-cigarettes more than once a week, compared with 0.5 per cent in 2015."
Professor Münzel further explained: "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."
Prof Münzel hopes governments prevent young people from being able to obtain tobacco products. He believes educating teenagers about the dangers of tobacco products and vaping and taxing these products could help tackle the issue. "We cannot allow an entire generation to become addicted to nicotine," he told a news portal.
The team wanted to understand how e-cigarette vapour affects blood flows in the brachial artery. They set out to investigate20 healthy smokers. Smokers were tested before and after they vaped an e-cigarette so researchers could measure how stiff the artery became. They also conducted a test on 151 mice exposed to cigarette vapour six times a day for 20 minutes for about five days.
The results from the human test showed one vaping episode increased heart rates and caused the arteries to become stiff.It also disrupted the function of the endothelium, which is the inner lining of the arteries. This can put a person at risk of cardiovascular disease.
Meanwhile, the result from the mice test revealed an enzyme known as NOX-2 caused damage to the blood vessels in the body, including in the regions of the brain and lung. This enzyme works to tackle bacteria in the body and prevent oxidative stress. Mice were also not able to protect themselves from damage caused by the effects of vaping because they could not produce NOX-2.
"The results of the present studies identified several molecular mechanisms whereby e-cigarettes can cause damage to the blood vessels, lungs, heart and brain. This is a consequence of toxic chemicals that are produced by the vaping process and may also be present at lower concentrations in the liquid itself," Prof Münzel told a news portal. Adding, "Importantly, we identified an enzyme, NOX-2, that mediated all the effects of e-cigarettes on the brain and cardiovascular system, and we found that a toxic chemical called acrolein, which is produced when the liquid in e-cigarettes is vaporised, activated the damaging effects of NOX-2. The beneficial effects of macitentan and bepridil indicate that e-cigarettes have the capacity to trigger constriction of blood vessels and to impair our cells' antioxidant and survival systems."
The study's findings were originally published in the European Heart Journal.
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