Daniel J. Conklin, Ph.D.
University of Louisville professor Daniel J. Conklin, Ph.D., is studying the health effects of flavorings added to e-cigarettes. The flavor toxicity research was done at Boston University and UofL under direction of the FDA-funded American Heart Association -- Tobacco Regulation and Addiction Center. (Photo courtesy Daniel J. Conklin, Ph.D)

E-cigarettes come in all kinds of flavors, like mango, cotton candy or creme brûlée. 

But a new study from Boston University and the University of Louisville shows inhaling those flavors could be bad for your cardiovascular health. 

Researchers found short-term exposure to some flavor additives may cause adverse health effects, such as blood vessel dysfunction that could lead to hypertension.

These results were published in a journal of the American Heart Association (AHA): Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology

Daniel J. Conklin, PhD, a professor of cardiovascular medicine at UofL and an author on the study, said little is known about the health effects of e-cigarettes compared to what we know about regular cigarettes.

Despite many still containing nicotine and some with high levels of nicotine, such as JUUL, he said e-cigarette devices are often seen as a cessation tool or as a “safer” alternative because e-cigarettes contain fewer ingredients that can cause cancer.

“But we can’t rule out risks for other diseases just because cancer risk is reduced,” he said. 

In 2016, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 15.4 percent of adults said they had ever used an e-cigarette and 3.2 percent said they were current users.

But Conklin said e-cigarettes appear to have gained the most traction with teenagers and young adults. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, high school students use e-cigarettes more than adults and more than they use traditional cigarettes.

“That’s the most disconcerting aspect, because long-term tobacco use starts in the youth with addiction to nicotine,” he said. “So, many public health advocates are worried we’re looking at addicting a new generation.”