E-cigs May Raise Stroke Risk as Much as Tobacco, Research SuggestsFeb 23, 2017
Study Compared E-cig Vapor and Tobacco Smoke in Mice
New research findings suggest that e-cigarette vapor may raise the risk of a stroke more than tobacco smoke from traditional cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes have grown in popularity in recent years; they are marketed as a smoking cessation tool and as a healthier alternative to conventional cigarettes. However, studies suggest that these devices are not without risks.
The product liability attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP have decades of experience representing consumers in lawsuits over allegedly defective or dangerous products. The firm continues to offer free legal consultations to individuals with questions about filing an e-cigarette lawsuit.
Recent study findings were presented at the American Heart Association's International Stroke Conference in Houston. The findings were presented by graduate student and research assistant Ali Ehsan Sifat of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Amarillo, Texas, according to the AHA website.
In the preliminary study, researchers compared mice exposed to e-cigarette vapor versus mice exposed to tobacco smoke. There were worse stroke outcomes and neurological issues among mice exposed to e-cigarette vapor for 10 or 30 days compared to those exposed to tobacco smoke. Additionally, mice exposed to e-cigarette vapor had less glucose uptake in the brain. The brain is fueled by glucose, or sugar. Researchers found that the levels of thrombomodulin, important for anti-clotting in the body, were reduced both in mice exposed to tobacco smoke and e-cigarette vapor.
"E-cigarette exposure decreased glucose uptake in the brain. Glucose fuels brain activity," said Sifat, according to Mirror UK. "Both e-cig and tobacco smoke exposure for 30 days significantly impaired circulating levels of an enzyme required for clotting - potentially increasing the risk for stroke and worsened secondary brain injury."
Parker Waichman notes that another recent study found that e-cigarettes can present cardiovascular risks. Researchers found that ten puffs on an e-cigarette triggered physiological changes associated with an increased risk of heart disease. The findings were published December 2016 in the journal Atherosclerosis.
Swedish researchers conducted the experiment by taking periodic blood samples from participants who were asked to take 10 puffs on an e-cigarette compared to those who did not (control group). All participants were considered seldom smokers. The authors noted a "rapid rise" in levels of endothelial progenitor cells, which suggest damage to the inner lining of blood vessels.
The authors commented that the "very short exposure to e-cigarette vapour... may indicate an impact on vascular integrity leading to future atherosclerosis", The increase was comparable to one traditional cigarette, researchers said.
The authors concluded, "In healthy volunteers, ten puffs of e-cigarette vapor inhalation caused an increase in EPCs. This increase was of the same magnitude as following smoking of one traditional cigarette, as we previously demonstrated. Taken together, these results may represent signs of possible vascular changes after short e-cigarette inhalation. Further studies analyzing potential cardiovascular health effects are critical as the e-cigarette market continues to burgeon."
Another study conducted by Harvard researchers found that flavoring in e-cigarettes contain a chemical associated with popcorn long disease, also known as bronchiolitis obliterans.
Although e-cigarettes are promoted as a healthier alternative to tobacco, some experts and safety advocates are concerned that the products are merely a step towards smoking traditional cigarettes. This is especially an issue with children and teens. In August 2014, the AHA issued new policy recommendations supporting measures that prevent companies from marketing and selling e-cigarettes to youth.
"Over the last 50 years, 20 million Americans died because of tobacco. We are fiercely committed to preventing the tobacco industry from addicting another generation of smokers," said Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association, in the 2014 press release. "Recent studies raise concerns that e-cigarettes may be a gateway to traditional tobacco products for the nation's youth, and could renormalize smoking in our society. These disturbing developments have helped convince the association that e-cigarettes need to be strongly regulated, thoroughly researched and closely monitored."
According to one study published in the journal Pediatrics, youth exposed to e-cigarette advertising jumped up over 250 percent from 2011 to 2013. AHA expressed concerns about the use of certain marketing strategies to focus on young people, including the use of celebrities and enticing flavors.
"Nicotine is a dangerous and highly addictive chemical no matter what form it takes – conventional cigarettes or some other tobacco product," said association President Elliott Antman, M.D., according to the release. "Every life that has been lost to tobacco addiction could have been prevented. We must protect future generations from any potential smokescreens in the tobacco product landscape that will cause us to lose precious ground in the fight to make our nation 100 percent tobacco-free."
FDA Releases New Rules for E-Cigarettes
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finalized new rules for e-cigarettes and other tobacco products in August 2016. Regulators said that tobacco products must carry a health warning. Additionally, companies are now prohibited from giving out free samples.
The new rule also requires the FDA to approve all tobacco products introduced after Feb. 15, 2007. Additionally, the rule prohibits sale of e-cigarettes and other products to anyone under the age of 18.
"Before this final rule, these products could be sold without any review of their ingredients, how they were made, and their potential dangers," said Mitch Zeller, J.D., director of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products, according to the FDA Consumer Update page. "Under this new rule, we're taking steps to protect Americans from the dangers of tobacco products, ensure these tobacco products have health warnings, and restrict sales to minors."
"Today's announcement is an important step in the fight for a tobacco-free generation — it will help us catch up with changes in the marketplace, put into place rules that protect our kids and give adults information they need to make informed decisions," said Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell in a statement.
Filing a Product Liability Lawsuit
If you or someone you know is interested in filing an e-cigarette lawsuit, contact Parker Waichman today. Our experienced product liability attorneys offer free, no-obligation case evaluations. For more information, fill out our online form or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).