More Information on Vaping and Health

  • One vaping session can result in changes in blood flow.
  • Researchers worry vaping can lead to hardening of arteries over time.
  • Vaping remains most popular with young people under 30.

Vaping is on the rise with teens — roughly 1 in 3 high school students say they vaped in 2018. The habit is putting them at risk for health consequences, and now, new research shows that nicotine might not be the only thing to blame.

A report published today in the journal Radiology has found that non-nicotine vaping can harm your lungs even after just one use of an e-cigarette.

In the study, published on Aug. 20, 31 nonsmoking participants between the ages of 18 and 35 vaped the equivalent to one conventional cigarette. The solution in the e-cigarette liquid contained propylene glycol, glycerol, and flavoring, but no nicotine.

Researchers conducted MRI exams before and after the vaping experiment to see how it affected the participants’ vascular systems. The MRIs showed that participants experienced a reduction in blood flow in the femoral artery (a large artery in the thigh) after just one vaping session.

Overall, the results showed that e-cigarettes may pose a risk to vascular functions and the lining of blood vessels in young, healthy nonsmokers, even if the liquid they vape doesn’t contain nicotine.

Vapor from e-cigarettes is often thought of as a less harmful alternative to cigarette smoke, especially among young people. A 2018 survey of around 44,500 adolescents found that teens think of e-cigarettes as one of the lowest risk drugs.

The liquid solution in e-cigarettes typically contains a mix of solvents, flavorings, and additives. When these chemicals are heated and inhaled, it may cause damage to the respiratory tract and blood vessels, noted Alessandra Caporale, PhD, one of the researchers, in a press release.

The latest findings echo previous research that has shown a connection between nicotine-free vaping and health consequences. A 2018 in vitro study found that exposure to e-juice flavoring compounds may trigger an inflammatory response in white blood cells.

Another study from 2018 found that the urine of 16-year-olds who used e-cigarettes contained higher levels of carcinogenic compounds than that of participants who didn’t smoke or vape.

More research is needed before conclusions on the long-term effects of vaping can be drawn, but early findings have experts concerned about the use of e-cigarettes.