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E-cigarettes could be just as bad for your heart as regular cigarettes, study finds

Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigs, may be just as bad for the cardiovascular system as traditional cigarettes, according to a study published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Heart Association. Researchers found that both vaping and smoking cigarettes cause a similar amount of damage to arteries and blood vessels. 

In recent years, millions of teenagers and young adults have started vaping regularly. In a press release accompanying the study, co-author Jessica Fetterman said many of these vapers believe e-cigarettes are safer than traditional, combustible cigarettes. 

"Meanwhile, the evidence from scientific studies is growing that e-cigarettes might not be the safer alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes when it comes to heart health," she said. "Our study adds to that evidence." 

The study followed more than 400 men and women aged 21 to 45 who have not been diagnosed with heart disease and are not at risk for heart disease. Researchers found that the 285 people who smoke traditional cigarettes and the 52 people who smoke both traditional and e-cigarettes were more likely to be older than those who don't smoke or only vape. E-cigarette users, researchers found, were more likely to be younger white males. 

The researchers discovered that all of those who used e-cigarettes had arteries just as stiff as those who smoke traditional cigarettes. 

"Stiffening of the arteries can cause damage to the small blood vessels, including capillaries, and puts additional stress on the heart, all of which can contribute to the development of heart disease," Fetterman said.

The study also found that e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes are equally as damaging to endothelial cells, located in the lining of blood vessels. Fetterman said the endothelial cells in e-cigarette users produce less nitric oxide, which protects the heart, and more reactive oxygen species, which damage cells, compared to the endothelial cells of those who don't smoke.

"Our study results suggest there is no evidence that the use of e-cigarettes reduces cardiovascular injury, dysfunction or harm associated with the use of combustible tobacco products," Fetterman said. 

Vaping has also been linked to lung damage, and has been deemed responsible for dozens of deaths

While Fetterman has noted that there needs to be longer-term studies to find out if e-cigarettes alone change vascular damage over time, several studies, lawsuits and health issues linked to e-cigarettes thus far have suggested that there are numerous health risks involved with vaping. 

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