“Worrisome” US Vape Research Blasted As “Irresponsible” By Top UK Scientists
Senior British academics, who recently carried out the largest review of its kind on e-cigarettes for the UK government, were reportedly “in despair” over the new research in America which made global headlines, explaining that nicotine in vaping causes these symptoms - and coffee create a similar if not larger response.
The American research by the University of Wisconsin sparked a barrage of news articles last week when it’s Cardiac and Lung E-Cig Smoking (CLUES) Study - due to be presented at this weekend’s American Heart Association’s Scientific Session - reported how participants suffered increased blood pressure and heart rate along with blood constriction, immediately after vaping or smoking cigarettes.
In a second report, they found people who used e-cigarettes consistently performed worse on treadmill exercise measurements, compared to those who did not use nicotine. The “significant negative health impacts” of using e- or traditional cigarettes, therefore, cast doubt on research which has found vaping remains significantly safer than smoking. But British academics - compelled to offer a clear explanation of the concerning research - clarified that the symptoms referred to the “well-known, short-term effect” of nicotine.
One academic further explained that watching a thriller on TV or drinking a cup of coffee, generated a similar or larger response.
Professor Peter Hajek, from the Wolfson Institute of Population Health at Queen Mary University of London, told i the US researchers had been “irresponsible”.
He said: “Like a number of such previous reports, the heart rate part is just noting a well-known short-term effect of nicotine that accompanies all types of stimulation. The same effect is generated by watching a thriller or a football match or sitting an exam."
“Drinking a cup of coffee actually produces a larger response of much longer duration. The key heart health risks of smoking are not caused by nicotine but by other chemicals in tobacco smoke that are not present in e-cigarette vapour”.
“The slant put on the finding is irresponsible as it can put smokers off switching to a much safer alternative. The bit on exercise is not comparing like with like, vapers are normally ex-smokers and no effects of previous smoking or other differences between people who do and do not smoke, including differences in exercise levels, were controlled for.”
Dr Debbie Robson, a senior lecturer in tobacco harm reduction at King’s and one of the authors of the well-respected report by King’s College London for Public Health England (PHE), said:
“The levels of exposure to cancer-causing and other toxicants are drastically lower in people who vape compared with those who smoke. “Helping people switch from smoking to vaping should be considered a priority if the Government is to achieve a smoke-free 2030 in England.”
In the report, released in September and in conjunction with the UK government, e-cigarettes were officially confirmed as less dangerous than smoking for the 8th year running.
The research also continued to advise vaping over smoking tobacco as it cuts health risks substantially.
Highlighting smoking was “uniquely deadly” killing half of all regular, long-term smokers, the comprehensive report also highlighted that two-thirds of adult smokers were unaware vaping was less harmful - and advised the government to do more to make people aware of the benefits of switching to e-cigarettes.
It did add, however, that since vaping wasn’t likely to be totally risk-free, non-smokers shouldn’t be encouraged to start vaping for no reason. Lead author Ann McNeill, a professor of tobacco addiction at King’s, said:
“Smoking is uniquely deadly and will kill one in two regular sustained smokers, yet around two-thirds of adult smokers who would really benefit from switching to vaping don’t know that vaping is less harmful.”
“However, the evidence we reviewed indicates that vaping is very unlikely to be risk-free. So we strongly discourage anyone who has never smoked from taking up vaping or smoking.”
Co-author, Dr Debbie Robson, also concluded at the time:
“Helping people switch from smoking to vaping should be considered a priority if the Government is to achieve a smoke-free 2030 in England.”
The report, commissioned by the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities, saw researchers review 400 published studies from around the world which looked at levels of toxic substances in the body, or signs of harm, after smoking and vaping.
Senior academics in the UK expressed dismay after suggestions by a US team of researchers that measurements of heart rate and blood pressure cast doubt on findings that smoking is much more dangerous than vaping.
Scientists at King’s College London, who recently carried out the largest review of its kind into vaping, were “in despair” at the coverage the US analyses has generated, i has been told.
The US team had compared cardiovascular function in people who vape, people who smoke and people who did not use any nicotine and said they found “significant negative health impacts” among participants after vaping and smoking traditional cigarettes.
However, UK-based scientists were critical of how the research, at abstract stage, had been introduced.