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Vaping is bad but added flavours can actually kill you by causing cardiac rhythm disturbances

The flavoured electronic nicotine delivery systems widely popular among teens and young adults are not harm-free.

The appealing array of fruit and candy flavours that entice millions of young people to take up vaping are cardiotoxic. Read on to know more.

Written by Jahnavi Sarma |Published : December 12, 2020 10:58 PM IST

Vaping is the term used to refer to the inhaling a vapour produced by an electronic cigarette or other vaping devices. E-cigarettes powered by batteries and it contains cartridges that contain a liquid. This liquid, which also contains nicotine, flavourings and chemicals, is heated to produce a vapour. This is very popular among the youth and it provides a false sense of security as it is generally believed that vaping is less harmful than smoking a cigarette. But this is not really true. Many studies have linked vaping with serious health conditions and complications including stroke, heart disease and lung damage. It can have serious health effects because nicotine is addictive, and it can affect brain development. This new trend can also affect memory, concentration, learning, self-control, attention and mood. It can affect a person's mental health and also increases risk of other addictions.

Now, researchers from the University of South Florida in the US have revealed the appealing array of fruit and candy flavours that entice millions of young people to take up vaping are cardiotoxic and disrupt the heart's normal electrical activity. Mounting studies indicate that the nicotine and other chemicals delivered by vaping, while generally less toxic than conventional cigarettes, can damage the lungs and heart. But so far there has been no clear understanding about what happens when the vaporized flavouring molecules in flavoured vaping products, after being inhaled, enter the bloodstream and reach the heart.

Vaping interferes with heart function

In the study, published in the American Journal of Physiology-Heart and Circulatory Physiology, the research team reported on a series of experiments assessing the toxicity of vape flavourings in cardiac cells and in young mice. The flavoured electronic nicotine delivery systems widely popular among teens and young adults are not harm-free. Their findings in the cells and mice indicate that vaping does interfere with the normal functioning of the heart and can potentially lead to cardiac rhythm disturbances.

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Fruity, cinnamon, vanilla custard flavours are highly toxic

In mouse cardiac muscle cells (HL-1 cells), the researchers tested the toxicity of three different popular flavours of e-liquid: fruit flavour, cinnamon, and vanilla custard. All three were toxic to HL-1 cells exposed to e-vapour bubbled into the laboratory dish where the cells were cultured. Cardiac cells derived from human pluripotent stem cells were exposed to three distinct e-vapours.

  • The first e-vapour containing the only solvent interfered with the electrical activity and beating rate of cardiac cells in the dish.
  • A second e-vapour with nicotine added to the solvent increased the toxic effects on these cells.
  • The third e-vapour comprised of nicotine, solvent, and vanilla custard flavouring (the flavour previously identified as most toxic) augmented damage to the spontaneously beating cells even more.

More dangerous than cigarettes

This experiment revealed that the flavouring chemicals added to vaping devices can increase harm beyond what the nicotine alone can do. The findings showed that mice exposed to vaping were more prone to an abnormal and dangerous heart rhythm disturbance known as ventricular tachycardia compared to control mice. This research is critical because regulation of the vaping industry is a work in progress.

(With inputs from IANS)

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