What are e-cigarettes?
E-cigarettes, also known as vaporizers, are battery-powered devices that heat up a mixture of nicotine, a flavoring, and a liquid—usually propylene glycol or glycerol—into a vapor for users to inhale. Ever since they debuted on the market in the early 2000s, e-cigarettes have been widely marketed as a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes, since vaping does not involve burning and smoking tobacco but still delivers a nicotine rush. However, recent research shows that many of the health problems traditional cigarette smokers face persist with e-cigarettes, due to the devices’ nicotine content and other chemicals in the liquid. In May, the FDA extended its regulation of tobacco products to include e-cigarettes, in an attempt to control what substances go into the often mysterious liquid and to keep the devices out of the hands of minors. But even with these regulations, using e-cigarettes can still cause some serious complications to your health. Science says this strategy is the best way to quit smoking.
E-cigarettes mess with your heart
iStock/Joshua Hodge Photography
Even though e-cigarettes don’t contain tobacco, they still hold plenty of nicotine, and can cause many of the same nicotine-related heart problems as regular smokes. According to Michael Fiore, MD, director for the Center of Tobacco Research and Innovation at the University of Wisconsin, nicotine falls in the “stimulant” category of drugs, leading your heart to beat faster than usual and potentially causing high blood pressure. Even worse, research presented at the 2013 American Society of Cell Biology annual meeting found that nicotine can damage heart cells and contribute to heart disease.