Researchers have revealed that the attractive variety of fruit and candy flavors that attract millions of young people to start vaping are cardiotoxic and disrupt the normal electrical activity of the heart.
Increasing studies indicate that nicotine and other chemicals supplied by vaping, while generally less toxic than conventional cigarettes, can damage the lungs and heart.
“But until now there has been no clear understanding of what happens when the vaporized flavor molecules in flavored vaping products, after being inhaled, enter the bloodstream and reach the heart,” said study author Sami Noujaim of the University of South Florida in the USA.
In the study, published in the American Journal of Physiology-Heart and Circulatory Physiology, the research team reported on a series of experiments evaluating the toxicity of vape scents in heart cells and young mice.
Flavored electronic nicotine delivery systems, popular with teens and young adults, are not without harm.
“Taken together, our findings in cells and mice indicate that vaping interferes with normal heart function and can potentially lead to heart rhythm disturbances,” Noujaim said.
In mouse heart muscle cells (HL-1 cells), the researchers tested three different popular e-liquid flavors for toxicity: fruity, cinnamon, and vanilla cream.
All three were toxic to HL-1 cells exposed to e-vapor bubbled in the lab plate where the cells were grown.
Cardiac cells derived from human pluripotent stem cells were exposed to three different e-vapors.
The first e-vapor containing the sole solvent interfered with the electrical activity and pulsation rate of the heart cells in the dish. A second e-vapor with nicotine added to the solvent increased the toxic effects on these cells.
The third e-vapor comprised of nicotine, solvent, and vanilla custard flavor (the flavor previously identified as the most toxic) further increased damage to spontaneously beating cells.
“This experiment told us that flavoring chemicals added to vaping devices can increase damage beyond what nicotine alone can do,” Noujaim said.
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.
“Our research is important because regulating the vaping industry is a work in progress,” Noujaim noted.