Smoking tastes disgusting. Menthol cigarettes are perhaps the compromise to that point. Even so, menthol cigarettes are still cigarettes, and thus, are disgusting. As cessation techniques go, using a vape to transition from or quit smoking tastes better. Sure, there are tobacco-flavored vape juices. I’ve already expressed my thoughts on their very existence.

One of the appeals of vaping is the astounding number of e-juice flavors available. In fact, the popularity of some flavored e-juices has led to some scrutiny and controversy in the vape industry regarding marketing to the youth. A lot of vape juice flavors are delicious. A number of them taste like candy or fruit.

But, there’s new reason to be mindful of your next vape juice purchase. Last week, the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology published results from a study about effects of vape juice ingredients on endocardium. Endocardium is a specific subset of endothelial cells found in the heart. Endothelial cells form the lining of our bodies’ blood vessels, like all our veins and arteries. Endothelium is responsible for a number of functions, including blood pressure, clotting and inflammation. The inflammation bit is especially important, as researchers, Fetterman, et al. attribute certain flavoring ingredients in vape juice to increased inflammation in aortic endothelial cells.

Fetterman, et al. specifically targeted ingredients “vanillin, menthol, cinnamaldehyde, eugenol, dimethylpyrazine, diacetyl, isoamyl acetate, eucalyptol, and acetylpyrazine (0.1–100 mmol/L)” for their study. Some of those may seem obvious or familiar. Dimethylpyrazine, though, is what gives e-juice a strawberry flavor. Isoamyl acetate is banana flavor. The researchers uncovered that high concentrations of these fruit flavorings increased cell death and proinflammatory response from their cell samples. “Lower concentrations of selected flavors,” such as vanilla and cinnamon, “induced both inflammation and impaired A23187-stimulated nitric oxide production consistent with endothelial dysfunction.”

This study used isolated cells in a lab setting over a 90-minute period. Though this was a singular study in specific, controlled conditions, the research team confidently concludes, “short-term exposure of endothelial cells to flavoring compounds used in tobacco products have adverse effects on endothelial cell phenotype that may have relevance to cardiovascular toxicity.” While we await more research to confirm or deny these findings, be mindful of the particular e-juice flavors you’re buying, and always do your research.

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