LINCOLN - In the wake of recent reports of fatal lung illness connected with the use of e-cigarettes, including a Douglas County resident in September, new research seems to confirm concerns about the health impacts of vaping.

A study by Boston University researchers found that e-cigarettes altered cholesterol levels, and Dr. Florian Rader, a cardiologist at the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, says his group's research suggests that vaping may be more harmful to heart health than traditional cigarettes.

"And now our study adds to the evidence that e-cigarette smoking may not be quite as healthy as it's being portrayed," Rader states. "And I think that there's reason enough for now to be at least cautious."

Rader compared the blood flow of 10 non-smokers, 10 tobacco cigarette smokers and 10 e-cigarette users.

Testing blood flows at rest and while squeezing a hand grip, only e-cigarette users showed signs of coronary vascular dysfunction, even when they were not exerting themselves physically.

Industry groups have previously argued that vaping is a healthy alternative to traditional cigarettes, especially for people trying to kick their smoking habit.

Commercials for e-cigarettes do warn about the health risks of nicotine, but Rader says marketing efforts still portray vaping as a healthy alternative.

Rader maintains in addition to nicotine, a number of manufactured products used to form vapors are likely causing the most harm.

"And honestly, most doctors, or the medical community in general, probably would have agreed a few years ago saying that, 'Yes, e-cigarettes sound like the healthy alternative,'" he states. "But now there's just more and more evidence mounting."

A recent study by the Food and Drug Administration found that a quarter of all high school students used e-cigarettes in 2019, up five percentage points from last year.

Rader notes his group's initial research and limited trial size could benefit from further studies, and testing health impacts over time, to determine the true impacts of vaping on public health.

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