Washington: New research indicates the chemicals found in e-cigarettes disrupt the gut barrier and trigger inflammation in the body, potentially leading to a variety of health concerns. In the study, published in the journal iScience, Soumita Das, PhD, associate professor of pathology, and Pradipta Ghosh, MD, professor of cellular and molecular medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine and Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego School of Medicine, with colleagues, found that chronic use of nicotine-free e-cigarettes led to a "leaky gut," in which microbes and other molecules seep out of the intestines, resulting in chronic inflammation.
Such inflammation can contribute to a variety of diseases and conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease, dementia, certain cancers, atherosclerosis, liver fibrosis, diabetes, and arthritis. "The gut lining is an amazing entity. It is comprised of a single layer of cells that are meant to seal the body from the trillions of microbes, defend our immune system, and at the same time allow absorption of essential nutrients," said Ghosh.
"Anything we eat or drink, our lifestyle choices in other words, has the ability to impact our gut microbes, the gut barrier and overall health. Now we know that what we smoke, such as e-cigarettes, negatively impacts it as well," added Ghosh.
The researchers found that two chemicals used as a base for all e-cigarette liquid vapour — propylene glycol and vegetable glycerol — were the cause of inflammation. "Numerous chemicals are created when these two are heated to generate the fumes in vaping that cause the most damage, for which there are no current regulations," said Ghosh.
"The safety of e-cigarettes have been debated fiercely on both sides. Nicotine content, and its addictive nature, has always been the major focus of those who argue against its safety, whereas lack of chemicals in the carcinogens that are present in the cigarette smoke has been touted by the makers of e-cigarettes when marketing these products as a 'healthy alternative.' In reality, it's the chemicals making up the vapour-liquid that we should be more concerned about as they are the cause of gut inflammation," added Ghosh.
For the study, the team used 3D models of human intestinal tracts generated from patient cells and simulated what happens when e-cigarette vapours enter the gut lining. —ANI