LONDON, England, Wednesday September 7, 2016 – New research suggests that using e-cigarettes could be as bad for the heart as smoking tobacco.
Researchers from the University of Athens Medical School found that inhaling nicotine vapour from the electronic devices damages key blood vessels, raising the risk of heart disease.
The Greek scientists monitored participants’ hearts while using an e-cigarette for 30 minutes and smoking a conventional cigarette for five minutes, which they said was the most accurate comparison of typical use.
They found that the two activities both raised blood pressure and led to similar levels of stiffness in the aorta, the main artery, which is a major cause of heart problems.
The researchers said that their trial of 24 healthy men and women, with an average age of 30, showed that e-cigarettes were “far more dangerous than people realise.”
The team stressed that the study only revealed short-term damage, and more research was needed into long-term effects, moreover.
Lead researcher Professor Charalambos Vlachopoulos, said the promotion of e-cigarettes had been rushed.
“E-cigarettes are less harmful but they are not harmless. I wouldn’t recommend them now as a method to give up smoking,” he said.
Dr Vlachopoulos said that nicotine is the most likely cause of damage to arteries. He is planning another trial using e-cigarettes without nicotine.
The results of the study, which were presented at the European Society of Cardiology congress in Rome, will fuel the fierce debate about e-cigarettes.
While most experts agree that they are less harmful than smoking tobacco, some are concerned that they are still a risk to health.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) warns they may also be toxic to bystanders.
The electronic devices, which contain liquid nicotine that is heated into a vapour and inhaled, are said to avoid the harm caused by tobacco smoke.
But the British Heart Foundation says the devices “could not be assumed to be risk-free.” The charity also wants more research into the safety of long-term use.
Public Health England nevertheless encouraged smokers to switch to e-cigarettes last year, saying they were “95 percent safe.”
The claim drew fire when it emerged that it came from scientists funded by the e-cigarette industry.
But Public Health England continues to back the devices.
“Vaping carries a fraction of the risk of smoking,” a spokesman said.