According to a new study, using electronic cigarettes may lead to an accumulation of fat in the liver, consequentially causing harm to the vital organ. The study was conducted on mice, which were exposed to e-cigarettes.
The researchers reported that e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is associated with non-alcohol fatty liver diseases. The long-term effects of e-cigarettes on liver disease, diabetes, heart disease or stroke are, however, unknown.
Elaborating on the same, the study’s lead author Theodore C. Friedman of Charles R Drew University of Medicine and Science in LA stated that the popularity of electronic cigarettes has been rapidly increasing in part because of advertisements that they are safer than conventional cigarettes.
Friedman however, said that 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. He said this has important public health and regulatory implications.
Study: Key Highlights
• The study, which totalled 12 weeks, was conducted on 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.
• While, 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 was exposed to saline aerosol.
• The researchers then 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. The circadian rhythm dysfunction is known to accelerate the development of liver disease including fatty liver diseases.
The research was presented at ENDO 2018, the Endocrine Society's 100th annual meeting in Chicago.
The researchers hope that their experimental results will provide support to policymakers and federal and state regulatory bodies to take preventive measures to stop the increasing use of e-cigarettes among both children and adults.