Experts: Vaping with nicotine increases chance of stroke - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Experts: Vaping with nicotine increases chance of stroke

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This machine at TTUHSC simulates vaping and smoking in the human body / Source: KFDA This machine at TTUHSC simulates vaping and smoking in the human body / Source: KFDA
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The brand of vape juice used in this project has started to offer fewer options because of increased FDA regulation requirements / Source: KFDA The brand of vape juice used in this project has started to offer fewer options because of increased FDA regulation requirements / Source: KFDA
Source: KFDA Source: KFDA
AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) -

Very little research has been done on the health effects of e-cigarettes, but that's about to change thanks to two researchers at Texas Tech University's Health Science Center in Amarillo.

Doctors Tom Abbruscato and Luca Cucullo have years of experience studying neuroscience and conducting research on tobacco's affect on the brain and body.

Now they're teaming up to use $1.9 million in grant funding from the National Institutes of Health to learn if e-cigarettes are the safe alternative to tobacco products that many users claim them to be.

Since e-cigarettes were introduced in 2007, vaping has become a popular alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes, especially among teenagers.

While these are tobacco-free, little to no research has been done to see if the product is still harmful to people, and the FDA is just beginning to regulate it.

Related: New FDA regulations smoke out local vape shop owners

Many vape juices still contain nicotine. The juices that do not, and just contain flavor, could still be of concern, as it's unknown how the ingredients in those juices may change when heated up.

"Now they may be safer, but there is a difference between being safer and being safe," said Cucullo. "Safe implies not toxic at all. Safer means less toxic."

The long term goal of this study is to learn how e-cigarettes affect the brain and compare that to the affects of tobacco exposure.

"One thing that's really important in our research is knowing how nicotine affects a developing brain," said Abbruscato. "It's much different than an adult brain. Some of these populations, like teenagers who are using e-cigarettes at a higher rate now, we just don't know the affects of that on a developing brain."

No people are being used in the study. Their lab has a machine that simulates what your body does while smoking or vaping.

Preliminary findings show vaping juices with nicotine do increase the chance of having a stroke.

Abbruscato said it's a big accomplishment for the TTUHSC School of Pharmacy that they were selected to do this research.

"It's local students that we're training," he said. "They're getting involved in this research, they're getting involved in presentations at national meetings, they're getting involved in publications. It's a great training experience, and being able to do that here in Amarillo kind of puts us on the map."

Cucullo, Abbruscato and their team of graduate students are just at the beginning of their study planned to last at least five years.

After receiving their federal funding, several other agencies are asking this local research team to do work on this topic for them too.

"Right now it's an open field," said Cucullo. "We're actually kind of glad to be the first player in it."

Because of this research, Abbruscato is flying to Australia next week to present these preliminary findings to researchers and health officials in that country, where vaping is currently outlawed.

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