They’re often promoted as healthier alternatives to cigarettes, but a recent study has shed new light on the dangers of e-cigarettes.
Researchers from the University Medical Centre Mainz have revealed that e-cigarettes can damage the brain, heart, blood vessels and lungs - particularly when used by young people.
In the study, the researchers looked at the effect of e-cigarette vapour on blood flow in the brachial artery in the upper arm in 20 healthy smokers both before and after they vaped.
The results showed that vaping just once increased the participants’ heart rates and caused their arteries to stiffen.
In a follow-up study, the researchers then exposed 151 mice to e-cigarette vapour over one, three or five days for 20 minutes, six times a day.
The results showed that an enzyme called NOX-2 was responsible for damage to the mice’s blood vessels, including those in the lungs and the brain, as a result of e-cigarette vapour.
Professor Thomas Munzel, who led the study, said: “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.”
The researchers hope their findings will discourage young people to take up vaping as an alternative to smoking.
Professor Munzel added: “The e-cigarette epidemic in the US and Europe, in particular among our youth, is causing a huge generation of nicotine-addicted people who are being endangered by encouragement to switch from traditional cigarettes to e-cigarettes.
“Research like ours should serve as a warning about their dangers, and aggressive steps should be taken to protect our children from health risks caused by e-cigarettes."