Mint gives a refreshing taste to the mouth. This is why many edible and consumable products use it for flavor. Even e-cigarettes nowadays come with this flavor for a lingering cool effect. Unfortunately, scientists found that this could spell more trouble for users.

A study to be published in Respiratory Research showed how researchers from the University of Pittsburgh determined how the mint flavor in vaping juice could be detrimental to health.

The team used a specially designed robotic system that mimics the mechanism of human behavior and breathing when using an e-cigarette or vape. They tested commercially available vape liquids and found that those containing menthol generated more toxic microparticles than non-menthol juices.

These toxic microparticles were then linked to shallower breaths and worse lung function among consumers in an accompanying analysis of patient records from a cohort. The researchers pointed out that while mint is safe for consumption, the same cannot be said when it is inhaled.

"Many people, especially youth, erroneously assume that vaping is safe, but even nicotine-free vaping mixtures contain compounds that can potentially damage the lungs. Just because something is safe to consume as food does not mean that it's safe to inhale," senior author Kambez Benam said, as quoted by UPI.

Benam is an associate professor in the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been pressuring cigarette manufacturers to stop putting menthol in their products since this drives many people, especially the youth, to use them.

Despite this, the market for vaping products has significantly expanded worldwide. In 2022, around 2.5 million youth admitted to smoking e-cigarettes. Mint- and menthol-flavored e-cigarettes were the most popular among consumers, according to Neuroscience News.

A study from 2019 found that vitamin E acetate, a common additive in cannabinoid-containing e-cigarette liquids, produces small toxic particles that could travel inside the lungs and line the walls of the bronchus and trachea.

The authors of the new study claimed the menthol additives in vape juices could be just as dangerous as vitamin E acetate. However, more research is needed to establish that.

"The main message that we want to put out there is for people, especially young adults, who haven't smoked before. Switching to e-cigarettes may be a better, safer alternative for someone who is trying to quit smoking regular tobacco products. But it's important to have full knowledge of e-cigarettes' risks and benefits before trying them," Benam said.

The federal government recorded more than 450 people have been hospitalized due to vape-related lung illness and six people died from the condition in the U.S. Pixabay