E-cigarettes affect a person's blood vessels after just one use, study finds

By Caitlin O'Kane

/ CBS News

FDA probing spike in illnesses among vapers

Vaping, even temporarily, can affect the blood vessels in healthy people — even if the vape pod does not contain nicotine, according to a new study published in the journal Radiology this week.

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine studied 31 volunteers, all of whom were healthy, non-smoking adults with an average age of about 24 years old.

The participants were monitored as they each took 16 three-second inhalations from a disposable e-cigarette. The researchers used an ePuffer with flavored e-cigarette liquid but no nicotine in it. A research coordinator made sure sure the participants did not cough or swallow the vapor.

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The researchers then conducted MRI scans on the participants and found a reduction in blood flow in the femoral artery in their legs. This change occurred after just one vaping experience.

The findings suggest vaping impaired function of the endothelium, or inner lining of blood vessels, a press release on the study explained.

"These products are advertised as not harmful, and many e-cigarette users are convinced that they are just inhaling water vapor," Alessandra Caporale, Ph.D., a post-doctoral researcher and lead author of the study, said in a statement. "But the solvents, flavorings and additives in the liquid base, after vaporization, expose users to multiple insults to the respiratory tract and blood vessels."

The authors say more research is needed on the long-term effects of e-cigarettes. But the short-term harm can be hard to ignore: a growing number of people have been hospitalized for lung damage after vaping. The CDC says 153 possible cases have been reported in16 states since the end of June.

In one of those cases, a previously healthy 17-year-old spent 10 days on a ventilator. An 18-year-old suffered a lung collapse.

"Lung damage is what we're most focused on right now, but there's so much more going on," Dr. Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Center for Health Research, recently told CBS News. "There are chemicals in Juul and e-cigs and we're not exactly sure what the impact is going to be because we haven't seen it before."

A study published in the journal Pediatrics last year found a number of different toxic chemicals in e-cigarettes, including one linked to several types of cancer. Some of the chemicals turned up even when teens used non-nicotine products like fruit-flavored vapes.

First published on August 22, 2019 / 3:09 PM

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