For most people, the topic of e-cigarette safety is of constant debate. Is it safer than normal cigarettes or is it more harmful? Does it induce the habit of smoking tobacco or increase the chances of fatality?
Many studies on these vaping pens have shown contradictory results – while some say, it reduces the impulse to smoke cigarettes as well as the risk of death, others have said the complete opposite.
Two studies carried out last year, for instance, had contradictory evidence to show. While one said that vaping could reduce mortality rate, the other said that the practice may double the risk of smoking.
Now, as the government continues to caution people against tobacco and e-cigarettes, a new study has suggested that the use of e-cigarettes may lead to an accumulation of fat in the liver.
The study exposed mice to the devices to come to the conclusion.
“The popularity of electronic cigarettes has been rapidly increasing in part because of advertisements that they are safer than conventional cigarettes. But because extra fat in the liver is likely to be detrimental to health, we conclude that e-cigarettes are not as safe as they have been promoted to consumers,” said lead author Theodore C. Friedman of Charles R Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles, Calif. “This has important public health and regulatory implications.”
E-cigarettes contain nicotine, which Dr Friedman and other researchers have reported is associated with non-alcohol fatty liver diseases. However, the long-term effects of e-cigarettes on liver disease, diabetes, heart disease or stroke are unknown.
In the 12-week study, Friedman and colleagues studied mice missing the gene for apolipoprotein E, which makes them more prone to developing heart disease and fat in the liver. All of the mice were fed a diet relatively high in fat and cholesterol.
One group of mice was put in a chamber that exposed them to e-cigarette aerosol so that their blood nicotine levels were similar to that of smokers and e-cigarette users. The second group of mice were exposed to saline aerosol.
The researchers collected liver samples and looked at genes in the liver affected by e-cigarettes using a technique called RNA sequence analysis. They found changes in 433 genes that were associated with fatty liver development and progression in the mice exposed to e-cigarettes.
The researchers also found that genes related to circadian rhythms (the body clock) were changed in mice exposed to e-cigarettes. Circadian rhythm dysfunction is known to accelerate the development of liver disease including fatty liver diseases.