Scientists in Germany said that smoking and vaping, whether by means of tobacco cigarettes, e-cigarettes or water pipes, stiffens the arteries, causes inflammation and damages DNA, leading to a variety of health problems.
According to the findings of a new study published in the ‘European Heart Journal,’ smoking and vaping may increase the risk of people being infected by COVID-19, suffering worse symptoms and dying from it.
In addition, the researchers found that overall, tobacco cigarettes were more harmful than e-cigarettes.
In the meantime, they wrote, “waterpipe smoking often referred to as hookahs, shisha or narghile, is not less harmful than tobacco smoking and thus cannot be considered a healthy alternative”.
The researchers said the main toxic chemicals in e-cigarette vapour include formaldehyde and acrolein, as well as traces of chemicals called transition metals and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), all of which are known to damage cells.
In contrast, tobacco cigarettes and waterpipe smoke contain a much
more complex mixture of harmful chemicals and other substances, they noted.
On its part, waterpipe smoke contains solid particulate matter, originating mainly from the charcoal used to burn the tobacco; this is also present in lower concentrations in cigarette smoke. However, nicotine which is present in all three tobacco products, is addictive and is responsible for harmful biological effects as well as, to a minor extent, some beneficial effects.
On how much the three smoking techniques stiffened the arteries, the ‘Medical Xpress’ reported that compared to non-smokers, tobacco cigarettes increased arterial stiffness by 10 per cent, waterpipes by nine per cent and e-cigarettes by seven per cent (medium level of evidence for all three).
The first author of the review, Professor Thomas Münzel, said: “Given the well-established harms associated with tobacco use and second-hand smoke exposure, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended that tobacco users should quit.”