A vape and a traditional cigarette. Image: Getty Images/Neydtstock via AFP Relaxnews

Starting vaping without giving up smoking traditional cigarettes may not be of any benefit to health.

So suggests a new study from researchers in the United States, who state that using e-cigarettes in combination with regular cigarettes may not cut the risk of cardiovascular disease.

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Researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health used data on 7,130 participants from the first wave (2013 to 2014) of the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) study to find out more about the effects of vaping on cardiovascular health. In fact, little data exists on the subject. Since the effects of this kind of exposure cannot be measured short term, the scientists instead looked for cardiovascular inflammation and oxidative stress, biomarkers that are known predictors of cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and heart failure.

First, the study revealed that participants who only vaped were no more likely to have cardiovascular inflammation or oxidative stress than participants who didn’t smoke or vape. However, the researchers also observed that participants who both smoked and vaped were no less likely to display these biomarkers than participants who only smoked regular cigarettes.

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This is an important observation, since the scientists state that an estimated 68% of people in the U.S. who vape also smoke regular cigarettes.

“Dual use of cigarettes and e-cigarettes appears to be as harmful to cardiovascular health as exclusive cigarette smoking,” says the study’s lead author Dr. Andrew Stokes. “If e-cigarettes are used in quit attempts, cigarette smoking should be completely replaced, and a plan to attain freedom from all tobacco products should be advised.”

The researchers admit that they were not expecting to discover that participants who only vaped would have results similar to non-smokers, although they caution that exclusive e-cigarette use was rare in the study sample. They therefore call for additional research in the field.

Stokes also reminds e-cigarette users that: “a variety of harmful or potentially harmful constituents have been found in e-cigarette aerosols-such as volatile organic compounds, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and metals — albeit with lower concentrations compared to cigarettes, so using these products is not without risks.” RGA

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