Researchers in Sweden have conducted a contentious piece of research that tested nicotine containing e-cigarettes by measuring participants’ blood pressure, arterial stiffness and heart rate. The results were measured for just 30 minutes after the volunteers used the e-cigarettes and the sample size was just 15.
Various media sources have covered this story despite the results only being preliminary and Dr Magnus Lundback of the Karolinska Institute, a medical university in Stockholm, said:
“The industry markets their product as a way to reduce harm and to help people to stop smoking tobacco cigarettes. However, the safety of e-cigarettes is debated, and a growing body of evidence is suggesting several adverse health effects.
“The results are preliminary, but in this study we found there was a significant increase in heart rate and blood pressure in the volunteers who were exposed to e-cigarettes containing nicotine. Arterial stiffness increased around three-fold in those who were exposed to nicotine-containing e-cigarettes compared with the nicotine-free group.”
The comparison is between nicotine containing e-cigarettes and non-nicotine containing e-cigarettes therefore meaning that the variable is nicotine. The focus should therefore surely be on the effects of nicotine rather than suggesting e-cigarettes increase the risk of heart attack.
The research didn’t compare any other nicotine delivery device, such as cigarettes or nicotine replacement therapies. The vast majority of e-cigarettes users are former or current cigarette smokers, making the comparison highly relevant. Therefore, all the test really showed is what we already know about nicotine but manipulatively masked it as a sting on e-cigarettes.
Nicotine often gets a bad rap due to its association with tobacco cigarettes however nicotine is in fact NOT one of the many harmful or potentially harmful constituents of cigarette smoke. Nicotine is a stimulant so therefore will have some effect on the body, in a similar way that other stimulants such as caffeine would have.
Lundback said that ‘chronic exposure to e-cigarettes with nicotine could have permanent effects’. Whereas chronic exposure to cigarettes causes the premature death of 1 in 2 users! What is the approximate amount of nicotine which would cause permanent effects, based on this preliminary research? Is the level so astronomical that it would not be plausible for one to be realistically exposed to such levels?
It’s a similar story almost every time we see an anti-vaping article… Usually a very small sample size, vague results data, biased analyses and a lack of comparison between the effects of cigarettes and e-cigarettes.