NIH, FDA Fund Study to Understand Effect of Flavors

Credit: Feng Yu

The National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have given the University of Louisville a $3.6 million grant to study the effects of flavorings like mango and bubblegum used in vaping products.

Researchers at UofL’s Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute hope to better understand the short-and long-term impacts of flavorings -specifically on the heart- and catalog which are potentially harmful, according to Kentucky Today.

“E-cigarettes are still relatively new, and we don’t yet fully understand what their health effects are,” said Alex Carll, an assistant professor in the Department of Physiology and co-lead on the project.  “Understanding this could help us make better purchasing and regulatory decisions.”

The FDA banned flavors used in disposable e-cigarette and has not approved any flvors except tobacco through its premarket tobacco product application (PMTA) process. The agency contends that some flavors could appeal to kids and help fuel rising rates of youth vaping.

Matthew Nystoriak, an associate professor of medicine and co-lead on the project, said some flavors may seem harmless because they taste like or use the same ingredients as in food. But while those ingredients are safe to eat, they may not be safe to inhale.

“Our goal is to understand how individual flavoring chemicals impact the heart,” Nystoriak said. “There are many flavor chemicals used in e-cigarettes and if we know which are potentially more harmful than others, it’s possible for people to make more informed decisions about which products they use.”

Identifying their biological effects also is likely to help the FDA in regulating flavoring additives in e-cigarettes in the future.