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Flavored electronic cigarettes linked to possible cardiovascular disease

June 14, 2018

(Boston)--Could flavored electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) cause bodily harm?

There has been a rapid rise in e-cigarette use, partially due to flavoring additives in tobacco products and perception of less harm than traditional combustible cigarettes. Numerous studies have been done on the risks of e-cigarettes to lungs, but the risk to blood vessels and how flavorings can affect the body are largely unknown.

The dangers of combustible cigarettes on the cardiovascular system has been known for decades, however e-cigarettes have only been around since the early 2000s. Studies to determine whether e-cigarettes are dangerous to blood vessels have been done, but no study has looked directly at the flavored additives toxicity to blood vessels until now.

Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) looked at short-term effects of flavoring chemicals used in tobacco products like e-cigarettes on endothelial cells, cells that line the blood vessels. The researchers noticed that when blood vessels were exposed to flavoring additives, normally released chemicals to promote blood flow were decreased and increased inflammation, indicators of short-term toxicity. They also found that endothelial cells from smokers showed the same toxicity as those treated with flavoring chemicals.

"Our findings show that flavoring additives themselves were directly toxic to blood vessels and have adverse effects that may have relevance to cardiovascular toxicity long-term similar to combustible cigarettes," explained corresponding author Jessica Fetterman, PhD assistant professor of medicine at BUSM.

These findings appear in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology.
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Funding supported by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and FDA Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) and an American Heart Association Mentored Clinical and Population Research Award 17MCPRP32650002 (JLF).

Boston University School of Medicine

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