E-cigarettes may damage blood vessels in the BRAIN, scientists find

E-cigarettes may damage blood vessels in the BRAIN, scientists find as they call on countries to BAN the controversial vaping devices

  • Researchers studied blood vessels in mice and a small group of people 
  • They found e-cigarette vapour triggered a tissue-damaging chemical imbalance
  • One of the scientists urged countries to ban them like India and Thailand have
  • A chemical in the vapour appears to make a natural enzyme cause damage

E-cigarettes could damage blood vessels in the brain and countries should consider banning them, scientists have warned.

Tests on humans and mice has suggested vaping stiffens the arteries and speeds up the heart, raising blood pressure and risking brain damage.

It also produces a chemical which forces a naturally-occurring enzyme in the body to trigger internal tissue damage, German researchers say. 

The University Medical Center in Mainz research comes in a week which has already seen horror stories about vaping and scientific studies adding fuel to the fire.

Just yesterday, 19-year-old Ewan Fisher, from Nottingham, told how vaping caused his lungs to fail. A study claimed the devices are just as bad for the heart as tobacco. And a man in the US was revealed to be the first to have a double lung transplant because of vaping.

Cardiologists now say countries should think about following the example of India and Singapore and banning e-cigarettes outright.

Ewan Fisher, 19, from Nottingham, had to be hooked up to life support and almost died from serious respiratory failure triggered by his vaping habit when he was a 16-year-old

Experts at the German university measured blood flow and vessel stiffness in arteries in the arms of 20 humans before and 15 minutes after they used an e-cigarette.

And they also exposed 151 mice to e-cigarette vapour for two hours per day over one, three or five days.

Doctors at a Michigan hospital say they have performed the first double lung transplant on a man whose lungs were irreversibly damaged from vaping.

No other details about the transplant were released by the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit on Monday.

The patient has reportedly asked his medical team to share photographs and an update to warn others about the dangers of vaping, which will be presented later today.

It comes amid the slew of vaping-related lung illnesses that have sickened 2,051 Americans since March and have killed at least 40 in 24 states and the nation’s capitol.

Most of the victims are male and under the age of 35, with the ages of those who died ranging from 17 to 75, according to the report.

There have been three deaths each confirmed in California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts and Minnesota and two deaths each in Kansas, Oregon and Tennessee.

In the human participants – who were all smokers in real life but still considered ‘healthy’ – they found the vapour made their arteries stiffen up.

It also reduced the function of the cells in the blood vessel linings and increased oxidative stress – a chemical imbalance which can cause tissue damage – in blood vessels in the brain.

In the rodents, the scientists found an enzyme which is found naturally in the body, named NOX-2, was being affected by the chemical acrolein which came from the e-cigarettes.

NOX-2, they said, was responsible for damage to blood vessels including ones in the lungs and brain. Mice without the enzyme were not harmed.

Professor Thomas Münzel said: ‘The results identified several mechanisms whereby e-cigarettes can cause damage to the blood vessels, lungs, heart and brain.

‘This is a consequence of toxic chemicals that are produced by the vaping process and may also be present at lower concentrations in the liquid itself.

‘Importantly, we identified an enzyme, NOX-2, that mediated all the effects of e-cigarettes on the brain and cardiovascular system, and we found that a toxic chemical called acrolein, which is produced when the liquid in e-cigarettes is vaporised, activated the damaging effects of NOX-2.

‘Our data may indicate that e-cigarettes are not a healthy alternative to traditional cigarettes, and their perceived “safety” is not warranted.’

Scientists not involved in the research, however, were quick to criticise it as ‘basic’, saying it was ‘impossible to draw any firm conclusions’ from the work.

The University of Dundee’s Professor Jacob George said: ‘This is a basic science in-vitro and mouse study with a 20 human subject sub-study bolted on, where a single e-cigarette was vaped by volunteers and vascular function tested before and after.

‘With regards to the human study, it is impossible to draw any firm conclusions from these small, single exposure studies which is why larger randomised clinical trials are needed.’

Professor John Britton, director of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, said research needed to focus on comparing e-cigarettes to tobacco.

He added: ‘This study cannot tell us which of these effects are due to the nicotine in the vapour, and which (if any) are due to other vapour components.

‘We know nicotine constricts blood vessels, and is obviously essential if e-cigs are to be effective as a replacement for smoking.

‘So we need to know whether any of these changes happen with no nicotine in the vapour, which we can’t tell from this study.’

E-cigarettes have come under fire this week with two horror stories revealing a boy whose lungs failed and a man who needed a double lung transplant because of the habit, as well as a scientific study claiming vaping is just as bad for the heart as tobacco (stock image)


Ewan Fisher, now 19, was rushed to A&E in May 2017 after vomiting a neon green liquid and gasping for breath just four months after taking up e-cigarettes.

He had to be hooked up to life support in intensive care when his vital organs failed and an artificial lung was needed to pump oxygen through his body.

The teenager, from Nottingham, is believed to have suffered an exaggerated immune response to chemicals found in e-cigarette fluid. 

Mr Fisher was rushed to A&E after vomiting a neon green liquid and gasping for breath just four months after taking up vaping

He was diagnosed with hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP), which sees the air sacs and airways in the lungs become severely inflamed.

The condition is triggered by an allergic reaction to inhaled dust, fungus, moulds or chemicals.

It has been linked to the vaping epidemic in the US, which has seen 40 people die and more than 2,000 hospitalised with mysterious lung diseases associated with the devices.

The tale was revealed by Nottingham University Hospitals Trust doctors in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) Case Reports. 

Mr Fisher said: ‘I switched to vaping because I thought it would be healthier and I was really into my boxing at the time so wanted to feel fit.

‘In the run-up to going to hospital, I had a choking cough and I was struggling to breathe. My mum was really worried and took me to Queen’s Medical Centre.

‘I was really struggling to breathe and they rushed me into a side ward and it went downhill from there.

‘I ended up in intensive care and needed two forms of life support. I almost died.’

Mr Fisher said his health is now back to about 80 per cent of what it was but that he still suffers from mental health issues because of the ordeal.

A ban on e-cigarettes may cause tensions in the public. Pictured: Vapers held a rally in Washington DC on November 9 to argue against a proposed vaping flavor ban

Professor Münzel, however, was adamant that children should be protected from becoming addicted to nicotine without ever having been smokers.

He and his colleagues suggested other countries follow in the footsteps of countries like India, Brazil, Singapore, Mexico and Thailand and ban the devices.

He added: ‘We cannot allow an entire generation to become addicted to nicotine.

‘The e-cigarette epidemic in the US and Europe, in particular among our youth, is causing a huge generation of nicotine-addicted people who are being endangered by encouragement to switch from traditional cigarettes to e-cigarettes.

‘Research like ours should serve as a warning about their dangers, and aggressive steps should be taken to protect our children from health risks caused by e-cigarettes.’

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