No Evidence of Additional Harm from Vaping
Published in the journal Internal and Emergency Medicine, titled ‘Clinical testing of the cardiovascular effects of e-cigarette substitution for smoking: a living systematic review’, the research team sought to answer concerns some hold about possible negative health outcomes of electronic cigarettes – principally to answer the question: “What are the cardiovascular health effects resulting from the substitution of e-cigs for conventional cigarettes?”
From the appraised studies, the authors discovered that over 60% of the research looked at demonstrated that switching to vaping was not worse for smokers’ cardiovascular systems. Specifically, they said, nothing of note was detected with reference to heart rates, blood pressure readings or cardiovascular tests.
The team said that two clinical studies provided evidence of potential benefits to be gained from switching from tobacco to vape products. They noted that people diagnosed with hypertension demonstrated a drop in their systolic blood pressure within a year of taking up vaping in place of smoking.
They also noted some serious limitations and flaws in the way most of the studies were conducted. They said that they believed twenty of the studies were showing a “high risk of bias” and the other five also contained some areas for concern.
Commonly, the In Silico Science review highlighted that 7 of studies rated poorly due to the demonstrated recruitment as they contained participants “of only one gender, young adult participants, or exceptionally light or heavy patterns of tobacco cigarette consumption.”
The authors of the review also noted that over half of the studies contained small sample sizes which further “reduced the confidence in their findings”.
Finally, “some studies had vaping protocols that did not replicate how individuals use e-cigarettes in practice.”
Dr O’Leary, the lead author of the study said: “Our review provides a detailed and up-to-date body of data regarding the possible implications for human health that comes from e-cig substitution. Data from the review support the idea that the use of e-cigarettes led to no additional cardiovascular heart risk and smokers who choose to switch can benefit from this choice.”
“However,” he continued, “as emerged in other reviews, we observed some methodological issue and flaws, mainly due to the design of the studies that do not represent real e-cig use and the limitations such as participants sample size or lack reporting of previous smoking history”.
This review is important as the research they looked at is often used as a stick to beat electronic cigarettes within the media. By finding that the studies were poorly designed and also failed to find any evidence of their claimed harm, the authors have demonstrated that the independent evidence produced in the UK remain the only worthwhile publications on the matter.