Vaping Increases Cardiovascular Disease Risk and Nicotine Addiction Rates: Study

Despite known risks associated with vaping, e-cigarette products do not undergo human safety testing before manufacturers market them to consumer, health experts experts warn.

A new study warns that ingredients used in vaping devices contribute both to nicotine addiction and increased cardiovascular risks, leading to calls for more research to be conducted into the long-term health effects of vaping.

Also known as electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), vape pens are battery-operated devices that heat a liquid solution which often contains nicotine. The solution then forms into an aerosol that is inhaled into the lungs.

Over the past decade, vaping liquid solutions have been marketed in many flavors, including sweet and fruity varieties known to appeal to young people, which has led to a new generation of Americans developing life-long nicotine addictions.

In a study released this week in the medical journal Circulation, researchers with the American Heart Association (AHA) warn about increasing data that links vaping to various health hazards, including heart and lung disease and nicotine dependency. The study also reveals vaping use has more than doubled among middle and high school students in recent years, raising health experts’ concerns on the long term effects of vaping products on young people.

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Vaping May Have Long-Term Health Risks

AHA researchers reviewed existing vaping product data to determine user trends and known health risks associated with the products.

According to the findings, middle and high school users are among the largest consumer demographics for vaping products, with nearly 30% of high school users regularly vaping as of 2019. Their data indicates vaping among young adults doubled from 2017 to 2019, with over 70%  exclusively vaping sweet or fruity flavors.

Researchers expressed concern about the number of youths vaping, and noted several ingredients in vaping solutions were linked to increased health risks. Many vaping solutions contain nicotine, a highly addictive chemical compound known to affect the cardiovascular system. Long term nicotine use is associated with elevated blood pressure, impaired lung function, and heart failure.

“Nicotine is an activator of the sympathetic nervous system, which has direct effects on the cardiovascular system,” the researchers noted. “Long-term overstimulation of the sympathetic nervous system results in cardiac remodeling, which promotes the development of heart failure and increases arrhythmogenesis.”

The researchers also pointed to propylene glycol and glycerol, two chemical compounds often used in vaping products, as known health hazards. The chemicals are linked to upper airway irritation and decreased lung capacity.

In addition, the researchers warn that flavors and sweeteners frequently used in vaping solutions have also been linked to serious health risks. Their data showed the substances contribute to chronic cough, shortness of breath, asthma, and bronchitis.

More Vaping Health Risk Research Needed

In an accompanying scientific statement released with the study, AHA researchers cite prior research indicating vaping health risks may not be apparent for decades without more studies.

The researchers urge more studies be conducted, noting that manufacturers market vaping products as tobacco devices, not drug or medical products, and are not required to submit them to regulators for human safety testing. That lack of testing may conceal severe vaping health consequences, AHA researchers warn.

“Young people often become attracted to the flavors available in these products and can develop nicotine dependence from e-cigarette use,” the researchers noted in a press release. “There is significant concern about young people assuming e-cigarettes are not harmful because they are widely available and marketed to an age group that includes many people who have never used any tobacco products.”

The latest AHA findings are similar to previous studies linking vaping products to various health hazards, especially among teens. A 2022 study on teen vaping found that while e-cigarettes do initially expose users to lower levels of cancer-causing toxins than traditional cigarettes, the amount of nicotine toxins inhaled doubles over six years. These toxins are associated with  increased nicotine addiction risks as the body breaks them down.

Health experts have increasingly criticized vape product brands such as JUUL for specifically marketing their products to young people and creating a teen nicotine addiction. In April 2023, courts ordered JUUL to pay $462 to resolve vaping nicotine lawsuits filed in six states.


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