Vaping – inhaling nicotine from electronic cigarettes – seems to cause the same kind of damage to heart vessels as smoking tobacco cigarettes, a study has found.
The study authors said it questioned Public Health England advice that vaping is likely to be much safer than smoking tobacco cigarettes.
The team, led by Professor Charalambos Vlachopoulos from the University of Athens Medical School, studied 24 healthy adult smokers and looked at how their pulse wave velocity – a marker of aortic stiffness – changed after smoking ordinary or E-cigarettes.
After vaping for a prolonged, 30-minute period the smokers had a similar increase in aortic stiffness as they had after smoking a tobacco cigarette for five minutes.
However, vaping for just five minutes did not lead to such a big increase in vessel stiffness.
The authors concluded that ‘E-cigarettes over 30 minutes induces an unfavourable effect on aortic stiffness similar to tobacco cigarette smoking,’ although they added that the effect was ‘not as prompt and is less potent’ than tobacco cigarette smoking.
The Department of Health and PHE recently backed use of licensed E-cigarettes to help people give up smoking, as an alternative to other nicotine-replacement products.
However, Professor Vlachopoulos told The Telegraph ‘there could be long term heart dangers’ from E-cigarettes and that he ‘wouldn’t recommend them now as a method to give up smoking’.
He added: ‘I think the UK has rushed into adopting this method.’
Professor Peter Weissberg from the British Heart Foundation said ‘much more research is needed to establish the safety of long term use of these devices’.
PHE, said in a statement: ‘Vaping carries a fraction of the risk of smoking, yet many smokers are still not aware, which could be keeping people smoking rather than switching to a much less harmful alternative.’