It’s not worth the risk. This is the conclusion reached by a research team in a new analysis of e-cigarettes. They say that if you didn’t smoke before, you shouldn’t start smoking in the first place. 

Cardiovascular problems caused by particles, metals and flavours

For months now, news from the United States about illness and death related to electronic cigarettes has been worrying users in that country. A new study is now likely to raise new concerns. In the journal Cardiovascular Research, researchers warn of the potential risks of steam to heart health. According to them, the liquids used for steam cooking contain fine dust, metals and flavours that could cause cardiovascular problems.

Faith in the safety of electronic cigarettes

For their study, the physicians analyzed data from several short- and long-term studies on the effects of electronic cigarette use on the cardiovascular system. Many people think these products are safe, but there is growing concern about their effects on heart health. Electronic cigarettes contain nicotine, particles, metals and flavours, not just harmless water vapour. It is already known that the particles inhaled from the air enter the bloodstream and eventually have a direct effect on the heart. Although the data available so far are not yet sufficient, they suggest that the same is true for electronic cigarettes.

The consequences of chronic use remain an absolute mystery

Nicotine, for example, increases blood pressure and heart rate, while fine dust causes hardening of the arteries, inflammation and oxidative stress. These problems are known from studies on the short-term effects of vaporization, but research is inconsistent and the consequences of chronic use of the e-cigarette remain a complete mystery. The potential damage to the heart has hardly been studied. According to the World Health Organization WHO, the number of steamboats in the United States has increased from 7 million to 41 million and could be as high as 55 million. In Germany, about 3.5 million people regularly take an electronic cigarette.

There is an urgent need for transparency on the ingredients

The new analysis shows that larger and longer-term impact studies are needed. Above all, it should give food for thought to e-cigarette users and discourage those who did not smoke before. It’s too big a risk to assume that you don’t become addicted and that there are no negative consequences and it’s not worth taking that risk. The study also highlights the need for regulation of electronic cigarettes: companies should be required to tell their customers exactly what they inhale, the scientists ask. Transparency is particularly important because products are constantly changing. Many companies do not publish the ingredients of their liquids and claim that they are protected by copyright.

Many newcomers in the field of electronic cigarettes

It should not be assumed that ingredients such as propylene glycol, glycerin, and flavours have the same effects when inhaled as when taken orally. For example, recent reports of steam-related illnesses and deaths have yet to be reduced to a single substance or product. While the use of THC-containing products appears to be linked to these cases, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has already reported that illnesses do not appear to be limited to these cases alone. Researchers point out that traditional smoking is the most preventable risk factor for cardiovascular disease and related deaths. Because of the perceived safety of vaporization, many smokers have switched to e-cigarettes or a combination of both. However, there are also many newcomers.

Highly popular with children and youth

Most worrisome is the number of children and teens who have gotten into the habit and may never have started smoking conventional cigarettes. The effects on their health are unknown. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration now warns of a steam epidemic, especially among young people: the number of consumers in middle and high schools has increased by 1.5 million in one year, and in high schools, one-fifth of U.S. students use e-cigarettes. As a survey commissioned by the German Cancer Research Center has shown, more and more young people in Germany are trying out the electronic cigarette. The proportion of 16-29 year olds who have already tried a vaporizer has almost doubled from 11 to 20 percent.

Slow recognition of the risks in adults

However, as the authors of this study point out, most current research focuses on adults, particularly those who have smoked conventional cigarettes in the past. This makes it difficult to assess the consequences for youth. The possible effects of e-cigarettes on fetuses when a pregnant woman is vaping are also unknown. The consequences of passive inhalation are also unclear. Adults are beginning to understand that the health effects of steam are not yet fully known and that the risks may be high.