Vaping and heart health stories based on a single dubious scientific study have dominated the UK tabloids this week – but what’s the truth behind those lurid headlines?
Does vaping really run the risk of giving you a heart attack or as some reports have stated – brain damage?
The latest barrage of ‘threat to vapers’ news articles, stem from a study by a German scientist – Dr. Thomas Münzel, of the University Medical Centre in Mainz.
His study was published in the European Heart Journal and has been fuel to the fire for the anti-vaping media here and in the EU.
This is yet another vaping and heart health study making such claims – remember my piece: Scientists Say Some E-Liquid Flavourings MAY Effect the Heart?
Yeah we debunked that one as we will this one.
OK, based on his ‘findings’ Dr Münzel is now urging Government across the world to “adopt aggressive measures against e-cigarettes“.
A bit arrogant to say the least – given the amount of positive research on vaping and heart health as well as numerous others from vaping NOT altering your DNA to lung function improvement among vapers!
But then the men in white coats do tend to have a thick layer of arrogance over us mere mortals.
OK, so what exactly has Dr Münzel discovered?
Nothing new really, however as you’ve probably seen, it’s got those rabid anti-vaping hacks all in a tizzy with shocking headlines suggesting us vapers are all about to clutch our chests and drop dead.
Nothing could be further from the truth as we shall see in a moment.
E-liquid – Vaping and Heart Health
The good doctor and his team of researchers have dragged up that old and already debunked theory that vaping causes artery stiffness – sounds scary huh?
Nope, it really isn’t, and as I reported 3 years ago, this scary sounding effect on the heart is also caused for a short time when drinking coffee or even watching TV for long periods of time…yes really.
At the time Professor Peter Hajek said:
Arterial stiffness is a well-known stimulant effect of nicotine that has little relevance for health.
Drinking coffee has the same effect, only greater and longer lasting (as does watching a dramatic football match).
Thanks Prof – if only those pesky reporters bothered to ask a proper expert 🙂
Read my article: How Dangerous is E-Liquid Infused With Nicotine? From back in September 2016 to find out more.
Those Vaping Mice Are Back!
In this latest study the researchers experimented on humans and mice – poor little sods.
As well as being pumped full of vapour – again – the little critters were also given a ton of drugs designed to treat among other symptoms – angina and high blood pressure.
As well as that – the team took what they are calling 20 “otherwise healthy smokers” and gave them an e-cigarette – in this case the Joyetech e-Go C.
Now that’s a bit of BS if ever I saw it…whilst I’m NOT saying all smokers are unhealthy – I have a feeling they aren’t exactly shall we say the healthiest folks on the planet.
What’s not clear and I may have missed it, is what e-liquid and at what strength was used – hey maybe an oversight but for all we know, it could have been 3mgs or 50!
The group of smokers were ‘tested’ before they vaped and after and it’s not clear how long after they’d stubbed out their fag they vaped.
Medical News Today said:
This experiment showed that using an e-cigarette just once increased participants’ heart rates, made their arteries stiffer, and affected the functioning of their arterial lining, known as the endothelium, which plays a complex role in circulatory health.
Among other functions, the endothelium helps ensure that vessels dilate and constrict correctly, that toxic substances do not pass into the bloodstream, and that inflammation and blood clotting are regulated, when necessary.
The researchers also found the vaping mice were found to have an enzyme called NOX-2 which is important to cellular health.
OK, so little wonder the mainstream media has jumped all over this one…
So what do the medical experts here in the UK have to say?
UK Scientists Debunk Latest Scare Stories
As you might expect, they have a lot to say!
I struggle to find a quote debunking studies like this one as the majority of health professionals and scientists really don’t like to ‘slam’ their colleagues.
However in this case not one but three have stepped forward including an eminent cardiologist – an expert in Clinical Physiology (Cardiology) and that man again, Professor Peter Hajek from the tobacco control unit at Queens University London.
And in this case they have PLENTY to say!
Prof Ajay Shah, Head of School of Cardiovascular Medicine & Sciences, and BHF Professor of Cardiology, King’s College London, said:
It is important to note that the researchers did not study the effects of e-cigarettes on healthy non-smokers but only in people who regularly smoke cigarettes and whose endothelium may already be slightly abnormal – so we cannot fully extrapolate these results to non-smokers.
They also only studied the effects of one episode of vaping.
The conclusions from the animal studies regarding possible effects on the lungs and brain therefore require further research in people to assess if the same happens in humans.
He wasn’t completely anti Dr Münzel’s study and in the balance of fairness added:
However, it is quite clear that e-cigarettes appear to cause potentially harmful effects on the endothelium in people who are regular cigarette vapers, indicating that they are not harmless.
No-one has ever said e-cigs are harmless – but certainly considerably less harmful than smoking.
Dr Gavin Sandercock, Reader in Clinical Physiology (Cardiology) and Director of Research, University of Essex, said:
This study was done in mice and in 20 human smokers.
The mouse work is very complex but I didn’t find it very compelling.
The human work is complicated by the fact the people were current smokers so we can’t tell how much of the observed effect could be down to smoking-related damage.
All the effects vaping had on the human smokers were short-term changes we know happen when nicotine enters the body; by smoking cigarettes, vaping, using patches or gum’ – they are not specific to vaping.
Many of the potential health problem suggested in the study are not based on the humans who took part, but come from experiments done in mice.
This makes the findings difficult to generalize to human health.
OK let’s leave it to our old friend and staunch pro-vaper, Prof Peter Hajek, Director of the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit, Queen Mary University of London, who said:
The authors detected two effects.
In human smokers, nicotine from e-cigarettes produced a typical acute stimulant effect, also seen after drinking coffee, that on its own signals no danger.
In mice and in tissue samples, acrolein, a chemical that can be generated when e-liquid is fried, had more damaging effects.
This however is not relevant for human vapers.
Frying e-liquid produces this chemical, but this also produces aversive taste that vapers avoid.
Human vapers have acrolein levels that are similar to non-smokers and much lower than in smokers.
In other words – it’s that vaping at high levels that not only the vast majority of vapers couldn’t handle, but the e-liquid burns making it unpalatable.
As you can see when you actually talk to the experts – pretty much 99.9999% of those vaping scare stories can be debunked and easily too.
However these anti-vaping research studies are big business and whilst the gravy train is at the station expect more shock horror stories.
We shall of course endeavor to give you the real facts behind those anti-vaping headlines 😉
And next time you see a media anti-vaping scare story – wait for the true facts to come out…