There is a real demand from the public for answers about the health of e-cigarettes. There is a tendency to believe that they are completely harmless… but is that really the case? The more we learn about them, the more dangerous they look.

In a study using data from 69,000 people 18 and older from 2014 & 2016, the association between e-cigarette use, cigarette smoking and heart attacks was analyzed and found that daily e-cigarette users were almost two times as likely to have a heart attack compared to those who never used e-cigarettes. By comparison, people who smoked conventional cigarettes every day were roughly three times as likely to have a heart attack as non-smokers. The dangers are greater for those who use both e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes everyday. These users were roughly FIVE times more likely to have a heart attack compared to someone who never smoked conventional cigarettes or used e-cigarettes.

Another study found that e-cigarette users had significantly higher systolic blood pressure and heart rate 45 minutes after vaping, compared to conventional cigarette smokers. This study also looked at the effect of vaping nicotine free liquids, and still found some effects. So nicotine is important, but doesn’t account for all of the changes in cardiovascular health after using e-cigarettes.

A study on 6000 adults who reported a history of tobacco use over the prior 30 days, found that all tobacco users had fairly high levels of nicotine in their system, regardless of the type of product they were using. But levels of a metabolite of Nitrosamine (a tobacco specific carcinogen) were highest among individuals who were only using spit or chew tobacco, and lowest among individuals who were using only e-cigarettes. However, most people in the study who used e-cigarettes also smoked, which raised their carcinogen exposure.

E cigarettes are likely to be less harmful than smoking, but they are not harmless. If a patient who is currently smoking is interested in trying e-cigarettes as a way to get away from combustible tobacco products (cigarettes, cigars, waterpipes, pipes, blunts), we would encourage their desire to improve their health. However, the healthiest option is to live completely tobacco and nicotine free.

Source: Canadian Dental Association (CDA) essentials 2018 Vol 5 Issue 8