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Despite vaping-related deaths, new study says it’s still safer than cigarettes

Health officials identify potential toxin involved in vaping-related illnesses

Cigarette smokers can improve their heart health within weeks of switching to e-cigarettes, according to a new study. The monthlong study was conducted by researchers at the University of Dundee and published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

» RELATED: CDC: Vaping has led to dozens of deaths, 2,000 lung illnesses

Researchers monitored the blood vessels of 114 smokers a month after they switched to e-cigarettes. They measured “flow-mediated dilation,” which refers to how blood vessels expand when a wave of blood rushes through them. The results showed that vaping has the potential to reduce heart attack and stroke risk.

According to the study, chemicals in cigarette smoke narrow arteries as they get mixed in with fatty deposits and can increase the risk of a life-threatening blockage.

» RELATED: Third vaping-related death in Georgia confirmed as total cases rise

Flow-mediate dilation scores have been closely linked to the long-term risk of heart attacks and stroke. The results of the study show risk scores as follows:

  • Healthy nonsmokers had a score of 7.7%
  • Smokers had a score of 5.5%
  • Those who switched to nicotine e-cigarettes for a month had a score of 6.7%

Researchers stressed that more research is needed, and the study does not conclude that vaping is safe. The AJC previously reported that health authorities have suggested Americans refrain from e-cigarettes until more is known about their link to respiratory illnesses.

"The key take-home is these devices are not completely safe and should not be tried by non-smokers or children,” said Jacob George, one of the researchers. "We now have clear evidence they're less harmful than tobacco cigarettes."