Nicotine-free vapes linked to serious blood vessel health risk

Electronic cigarettes have been linked to a number of potential health issues, the most concerning being dozens of cases of a serious lung condition in young adults and teenagers who reported vape use. There's a belief among some people who vape that using nicotine-free liquids makes the habit safer, but a new study indicates that's not the case — and, in fact, a single instance of nicotine-free vape use may have a serious impact on the body's blood vessels.

Nicotine-free electronic cigarettes may reduce vascular function after a single instance of use, according to a study out of the University of Pennsylvania's School of Medicine. The study involved MRIs conducted on a total of 31 healthy adults who were not smokers.

The participants first underwent an MRI before vaping, then against after vaping an electronic cigarette that did not contain nicotine. After analyzing the data, researchers found that this single instance of use caused a noticeable reduction in blood flow in the femoral artery, as well as impaired endothelial function.

The endothelium, the team explains, is a lining on the inside of blood vessels that helps with blood circulation. If this lining becomes damaged, the impacted arteries may start to thicken, the study warns, disrupting blood circulation and putting the individual at risk of having a stroke or heart attack.

The consequence may be due to the liquid used as the base for vaping, including glycerol and propylene glycol. Felix W. Wehrli, PhD, the study's principal investigator, explained, 'While e-cigarette liquid may be relatively harmless, the vaporization process can transform the molecules — primarily propylene glycol and glycerol — into toxic substances.'