While in the case of conventional cigarettes we have no doubt about their negative effects, in the case of electronic alternatives we are only at the beginning of discovering their potential harm. The results of the University of Pennsylvania Medical School Survey came to a surprising conclusion: electronic cigarettes adversely affect blood circulation, even if they do not contain nicotine.
So far, in the context of the possible health effects of electronic cigarettes, liquids containing toxic components have been the most commonly mentioned. The so-called "evaporation", inhalation of the heated solution, has been linked to various forms of lung disease with more research.
Most "electronic smokers" use nicotine-containing cartridges. This pyridine alkaloid plant contained in tobacco has stimulating and relaxing effects. In addition, however, it unnaturally stimulates cardiac activity and, above all, causes extremely strong dependence – even considered to be one of the most addictive substances.
Only even consumers who use nicotine-free liquids endanger their health – specifically damages blood vessels. Researchers conclude that even rare evaporation can disrupt blood circulation. The study results are based on testing of 31 adult and healthy nonsmokers.
The researchers first underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a technique used to visualize the internal organs of the human body. They were then asked to smoke an electronic cigarette without nicotine and then passed the test again.
It is harmful even without nicotine
The results were quite surprising: even a single use of an electronic cigarette resulted in a significant reduction in blood flow in femoral arteries by 17.5% and worsening of endothelial function, which may affect the development of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). The study warns that as a result of a disorder of the bloodstream, the subject is at risk of stroke or heart attack.
Researchers searched for the cause and found it in a solution of glycerol and propylene glycol, which is used to make "liquids". Research leader, Felix W. Werley explained that: "While the solution itself may be relatively harmless, the molecules – especially propylene glycol and glycerol – can turn into toxic substances during the process of evaporation."
Obviously, the results should be taken with some margin – for the sole reason of a relatively small sample of test subjects. Even if the health effects are confirmed, the harmfulness of electronic cigarettes is less than that of conventional cigarettes, as they do not inhale combustion products from burning tobacco.