A study published this week in the medical journal Radiology has found vaping — even just one time — damages blood vessel function. UT Health San Antonio pulmonologist Sandra Adams said this research, in addition to a Centers for Disease Control investigation into more than 100 cases of severe lung disease linked to vaping, back up health experts’ previous admonitions that people avoid e-cigarettes until more is known about how they impact long-term health.
In the recent University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine study, researchers asked 31 healthy adults who had never vaped or smoked cigarettes to puff on an e-cigarette 16 times. The juice cartridges contained tobacco flavorings and sweeteners, but no nicotine. Researchers measured the blood flow in each participant’s leg before and after vaping, and found that it took about an hour for blood flow and oxygen levels to return to normal.
That damage, while temporary, is concerning for pulmonologists like Adams. She said, “Those changes, while reversible with a single exposure, over time could show that significant problems can happen to the blood vessels in one’s body with smoking nicotine-free e-cigarettes.”
Adams was particularly struck that the juice cartridges were nicotine-free. That means none of the harm was related to the known negative health impacts of nicotine. Researchers don’t know what may be the cause of the blood vessel changes. They note that the solvents, flavorings and additives in the liquids that are heated and vaporized in an e-cigarette have not been studied. They also point out that someone who is vaping also inhales unstudied micro-particles deep into their lungs.
Those unknowns are red flags for Adams. She said, "This study just shows one little snapshot of the possibility of long term effects on the blood vessels, and then we have all the effects from all these cases around the country of adverse effects on the lungs."
The most recent update from the CDC on its investigation into the recent surge in people showing up at hospitals with possible vaping-related lung damage was released on Aug. 21. It said there are 149 cases of severe lung disease under investigation in 15 states - including Texas.