SMOKING is a known killer – but the tobacco-free alternatives may be just as bad, research suggests.
A new study has found people who use e-cigarettes are 15 per cent more likely to have a stroke in middle-age than those who smoke.
Adults who used e-cigarettes were younger when they had their first stroke – 48 years on average.
Those who smoked cigarettes were typically a decade older when they had their first stroke, at 59 years, and aged 50 if they had used e-cigarettes as well.
The findings come from a study of almost 80,000 adults, of which more than 30,000 used e-cigs either alone or in combination with tobacco.
Stroke was far more common among traditional cigarette smokers – 6.7 per cent compared with 1 per cent in vape users.
But the researchers said “the public needs to know” that e-cigarettes are not without risk, presenting their findings at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2021.
Dr Karen Furie, chair of the Department of Neurology at Brown University's Warren Alpert Medical School in Providence, Rhode Island, said: “Many people are aware that nicotine is a chemical in vaping products as well as in conventional cigarettes.
“However, there are lots of other chemicals included that can directly affect the lining of the blood vessels.
“These can cause damage to the blood vessels that results in atherosclerosis, but it can also cause injury that weakens the strength of the blood vessels, predisposes to clot formation and can damage the blood vessels over time, so that individuals are at risk for both the ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke.
“It's quite possible that exposure at a younger age may cause irreversible damage to blood vessels throughout the body and particularly in the brain.”
The experts claimed e-cigarettes are “not a safe alternative” and should not be used as an alternative to smoking, and that people should go cold turkey instead.
As e-cigarettes have become increasingly popular in recent years, there are still questions over their long-term effects.
But experts agree they are far better than smoking because they do not contain the dangerous tar and carbon monoxide found in tobacco.
E-cigarettes have been shown to be the most effective way to kick the smoking habit.
The NHS says “they're not completely risk free, but they carry a small fraction of the risk of cigarettes”.
“The liquid and vapour contain some potentially harmful chemicals also found in cigarette smoke, but at much lower levels,” it writes.
The products are not recommended for non-smokers to use – only people trying to kick tobacco use.
The UK may be the first country in the world to soon offer e-cigarettes to smokers on prescription as medicinal products.
Almost 64,000 people died from smoking in England in 2019. It remains the leading cause of premature death.
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