Could vaping pose a greater risk for stroke?
Since e-cigarettes started to gain popularity, one of the big selling points has been that they have less chemicals than traditional, combustible, cigarettes, and that they are less harmful. As more and more research has come out, we have found that there may be many holes in those two ideas. A new study just came out that while it does have some flaws, shows an alarming rate of e-cigarette users having a higher chance of having a stroke at a younger age than traditional cigarette users. But before we get into the outcome of the study, and the flaws it may have, let’s discuss how the study was conducted.
How the study was conducted
Researchers in Dallas, Texas surveyed nearly 80,000 Americans who were either cigarette users, e-cigarette users, or both, and who had also had a history of strokes. Among the people surveyed, 7,765 used vapes, 48,625 smoked traditional cigarettes, and 23,444 used both. What the study concluded was that the people who smoked traditional cigarettes has a 6X higher chance of having a stroke, but that among vapers, the average age where people did have their first stroke was about 11 years younger. This number came from the average age of cigarette users having their first stroke was 59 years old, but for vapers the average age was 48 years old. This shows a 15% higher chance of having a stroke at a younger age if someone uses an e-cigarette.
“The public needs to know that the safety of e-cigarettes has not been proven and [they] should not be considered as an alternative to traditional smoking, especially among people with existing risk factors such as a history of heart attack, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol,” says Dr. Urvish Patel, Mount Sinai’s chief education officer in the department of public health and neurology, in a media release.
Flaws in the study
Now to discuss some of the flaws in the study. The first red flag is that there was no control group of non-smoking people with a history of strokes. This means that there is no way to know whether vapers are less or more likely than non-smokers to have a stroke.
Second, the official study has not been published yet, as I was researching for this blog, I was finding a news story, that referenced another news story, that references a blog, and so on. I could not find the original study which made it more difficult to understand how the original study was conducted. This is only a red flag for all the news websites who will immediately tout “E-cigarettes worse for you than traditional cigarettes!” without having sifted through the raw data.
Third, the study is still so new that it has not been peer-reviewed yet. Additionally, because it has not officially been published, we are not sure as to where the funding has come from.
Where does this leave us? Well, the first and most obvious thing to consider is that the only safe alternative to smoking is not smoking at all. When young people ask us things like “what’s worse vapes or cigarettes?” “What’s worse, vapes or marijuana?” we always make sure to tell them that the safest and healthiest thing you can do is to not smoke at all. We need to continue teaching young people to take care of themselves and that means staying away from putting any kind of harmful chemical in your lungs. If you would like to bring that information to a young person near you, contact Wendy at Admin@RayLozano.com and ask about a webinar or an in-person presentation. Be sure to ask whether or not we have grant money in your area for a free-to-you presentation!