UCSF study: Daily e-cigarette use can double risk of heart attack

New evidence suggests that e-cigarettes may be more of a health risk than at first thought. 

A study led by University of California San Francisco scientists finds that daily e-cigarette use can double a smoker's risk for heart attack. Many smokers use e-cigarettes as a way to stop smoking. 

Dr. Stanton Glantz, the senior author of the study, says he was surprised by the findings, because e-cigarettes have been around for only a decade. 

Regular cigarette smoking triple the risk for heart attack and for those who do both, the risk increases five times. 

"E-cigarettes aren't safe. Using them brings substantial risk of major disease," Glantz says. 

The study surveyed almost 70,000 people. Glantz says heart disease is the number one killer of smokers. 

"I've definitely tried them in the past to try to get myself to stop smoking actual cigarettes. I do like smoking," says Michael Bordelon, a smoker who tried e-cigarettes six months ago to quit cigarettes, but it didn't work. "I tried it to see if it'd help, give me my nicotine fix or the smoking fix in general. I still preferred the old method," he says. 

He went back to smoking cigarettes. 

"Are they are dangerous as a cigarette? Probably not, but they're still pretty dangerous. If you use them at the same time as cigarettes, they're extra dangerous," Glantz says. 

He adds that e-cigarettes are not harmless water vapor. They deliver lower levels of carcinogens than conventional cigarettes, but he says they also expose users to high levels of ultra fine particles and other toxins that have been linked to increased cardiovascular and non-cancer lung disease risks.

Two smokers we spoke with said they've tried e-cigarettes, but suspected they were unsafe. 

"I would feel healthier because I wouldn't be ingesting smoke constantly. It'd be a vapor so it'd be a trick to my mind, but I'd still be addicted," says Chris Gallen a smoker. 

"If you're going to quit smoking, you have to do it cold turkey. Like after this pack, I am done. I won't go near it. It's the best way to quit," says Sebastian Williamson. 

Dr. Glantz agrees that quitting cold turkey is the best way with emotional support from therapy or counseling. 

He also says the good news is that the risk of a heart attack starts to drop immediately after you stop smoking regular cigarettes and that benefit is likely similar with e-cigarettes.