The study titled E-Cigarettes Linked to Heart Attacks, Coronary Artery Disease and Depression, used data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and concluded that ” adults who report puffing e-cigarettes, or vaping, are significantly more likely to have a heart attack, coronary artery disease and depression compared with those who don’t use them or any tobacco products.”
These conclusions were based on a cross-sectional analysis of data from the 2014, 2016, and 2017 National Health Interview Surveys, in which respondents were asked to report whether they had ever been diagnosed with having had a heart attack, coronary artery disease, or depression, and whether they used e-cigarettes and/or cigarettes.
A correlation is not causation
The researchers found that respondents who reported vaping were more likely to have ever had a heart attack, been told they have coronary artery disease, or to have ever been diagnosed with depression. However, just like similar studies before it, there is one major problem with this study: the researchers have no idea which came first: the vaping or the heart attack, heart disease, or depression.
This is an important factor, and leaving it out makes the findings meaningless. Research has shown that most vapers are former smokers, therefore all of all the above health conditions could have been caused by their smoking and even prompted them to switch to the safer alternatives.
More flawed research
In line with this, only last month, renowned cardiologist and anti-smoking researcher Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos, responded to similar allegations made by another recently published study and conference abstract.
Released last month, this latter study concluded that “Daily e-cigarette use, adjusted for smoking conventional cigarettes as well as other risk factors, is associated with increased risk of myocardial infarction.” Similarly the media coverage of the conference abstractstated that “E-cigarettes linked to higher risk of stroke, heart attack, diseased arteries.”
Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos, criticised these allegations saying that both conclusions are wrong and “constitute epidemiological malpractice and misinformation.” He explained that being cross-sectional surveys, meaning that they asked participants if they have heart disease and if they use e-cigarettes, such studies provide no information as to whether the participants initiated e-cigarette use before or after the development of the disease, or for how long.
As with the former study, this means that the participants could have easily started vaping following a heart disease diagnosis, in order to quit smoking and improve their health.
The study authors must know that these claims are erroneous
Additionally added the cardiologist, he is confident that both the authors of the published study and the American Heart Association, which released the press statement for the conference abstract, are well aware of these basic epidemiological principles, as any scientist would.
“This is simple, basic knowledge for a medical student, let alone for acknowledged scientists. And they know that the statements about “increased risk” are wrong. So, why do they use these statements? Perhaps we should ask them…” concluded Farsalinos.
The cardiologist concluded that these studies do not really provide any information about any risk associated with the use of e-cigarettes, despite claiming that they do. “They do not prove an increased risk and of course they do not prove that no such risk exists. They simply cannot address the question of whether e-cigarettes increase the risk for heart disease or not,” he said.
Post time: Mar-27-2019