Intriguing Vaping Study Shows Claims Were Wrong
A new study, funded by British American Tobacco, shows that vape products do not cause blood vessel damage, which has long known to lead to heart disease. This will likely be seen as a devastating blow to anti-vaping advocates around the world, who have long held the idea that vaping can be a factor that leads to heart disease.
The Daily Mail is reporting that the study, conducted by ones of the world’s largest tobacco companies, has proven that previous studies indicating that vape products negatively affect blood vessels wrong. In fact, the study proves that vaping has little effect on human blood vessels, even when twice the amount of nicotine that is found in traditional cigarettes is introduced into the human system.
“Our results suggest that chemicals in cigarette smoke that inhibit wound healing are either absent from e-cigarette vapour or present in concentrations too low for us to detect an effect,” Dr. James Murphy, head of reduced risk substantiation at BAT, told reporters as the study was published.
The safety of vaping has been a contentious issue for the last few years, both in the United States and around the world. It’s estimated that around nine million adults in America and 2.9 million adults in the United Kingdom vape; it’s also currently estimated that over nine million people across Europe have stopped smoking traditional cigarettes with the help of vape devices.
Smoking is known to be a substantial risk factor for heart disease, the number one cause of death globally. Since vaping has appeared on the market in several countries, with the first device appearing in China in late 2008, it is often heralded as a successful smoking cessation method, one which has already saved countless of lives.
There is still a large amount of disinformation, however, threatening to derail vaping as a public health product; several misleading studies and surveys have already been criticized by scientists and researchers for failing to report comprehensive findings or for showing bias. The threat of misinformation spreads from various independent studies to major reports, such as the one released last year by the US Surgeon General’s Office.
But science will prevail; the most recent study, which was published in Toxicology Letters, took on a previous claim that vaping restricts blood vessels and put it to the test.
The research was conducted by using a ‘scratch test,’ a simulation of a specific part of the human body that is synthetically grown in a lab and then used for experiments. In this experiment, a layer of endothelial cells, which is a type of cell that lines the interior surface of human blood cells, and then created an artificial wound in order to measure the length of time it takes for the wound to repair itself.
For the purposes of the experiment, traditional cigarettes and vape products, specifically the Vype ePen and the Vype eStick, were used, and smoke extractions were analyzed at concentrations from zero to a maximum of 30 percent. To simulate the use of heavy vape use, the vapor during the experiment was analyzed at concentrations between 40 and 100 percent, simulating a situation where over twice the amount of nicotine normally found in traditional cigarettes would be present.
To ensure proper measurement and accurate results, images of the cells were taken before, at regular intervals during, and after exposure to cigarette smoke and vapor during the amount of time it took for the artificial wound to heal.
The test consisted of samples of the artificial wound becoming immersed in smoke or vapor for a period of 20 hours, with assessments taking place at regular intervals.
The results found that while cigarette smoke prevented any healing to take place in concentrations of over 20 percent, vapor had no effect, even at 100 percent concentration and a double-dose of nicotine.
The results fly in the face of a major study conducted and published in August of last year, which was led by a team of researchers from the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Rome. The Independent reported on the study when the published findings were released to the mainstream media.
At the time, the study had focused its findings on the major blood vessels, such as the aortic valve. Lead researcher, Professor Charalambos Viachopoulos, who teaches at the University of Athens, said at the time that “We measured aortic stiffness. If the aorta is stiff you multiply your risk of dying, either from heart diseases or from other causes.”
However, the study did not measure blood vessels in general, leading many in the medical community to question if correlating vaping to heart disease was an accurate depiction of the product’s health concerns. Because aortic stiffness is not the only direct symptom of heart disease, as Viachopoulos concedes, then it is difficult to determine whether or not vaping could lead to heart disease, either in the short-term or long-term.
More recent research has surfaced as well, including a report that vape liquids, even those without nicotine, can cause DNA damage, which is thought to lead to cancer.
The team that released the study is headquartered at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville, Tennessee, and states that 92 percent of vape users who participated in the study had urine that tested positively for two of the five compounds linked to bladder cancer.
If one were to read the findings as recorded, it reads as a frightening cautionary tale; however, one must look deeper into the findings: DNA damage is a naturally occurring process, although health and lifestyle habits play a large role in how fast DNA can deteriorate. Damage can occur with systematic exposure to oil, coal, cigarette smoke, and exhaust fumes; biochemical reactions and sun exposure to metabolites can also cause DNA damage.
Simply stated, a man in his mid-forties who works as a car mechanic and is outside a majority of his time without using sunscreen has a higher chance of accumulating DNA damage faster than a man of his age who works in an office and limits his sun exposure.
Armed with this information, readers will know that while the study can seem like a death knell for vaping, the study is missing one key measurement from its participants: the level of DNA damage already present within their bodies. Because damage to DNA is both naturally occurring and can occur through one’s environment or lifestyle, it is impossible to pinpoint vaping as the sole cause for the cancer markers found in the participant’s blood.
It is, in effect, a study with no substance. It must be recalculated and redone in order to take this into consideration in order to be credible in the medical community.
As this publication has stated time and again, vaping still needs extensive study in order to measure both the short-term, but more importantly, long-term, effects that the habit may have on the human body. The study on blood vessels is a great place to start, but more work needs to be done in order to prove that vaping is the most successful and accessible way for smokers to save their lives.