Smoking e-cigarettes can lead to the accumulation of fat in the liver, according to experts from the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science.
Research Team Leader Theodor Friedman says: “The popularity of e-cigarettes is growing rapidly due to advertisements that say they are safer than conventional cigarettes. But since the extra fat in the liver can be detrimental to health, we conclude that e-cigarettes are not as safe for consumers. Our data has important implications for public health."
Friedman noted that the long-term effects of e-cigarettes on liver disease, diabetes, heart disease, or stroke are unknown. In a three-month experiment, Californian scientists observed mice lacking a gene for apolipoprotein E, making them more prone to developing heart disease and liver fat. All animals received a diet high in fat and cholesterol. One group of mice were placed in a chamber, where they were exposed to a cigarette aerosol, so that the level of nicotine in the blood was similar to that of smokers and e-cigarette users.
The researchers then collected liver samples and looked at genes affected by e-cigarettes using RNA sequence analysis. They found changes in 433 genes that were associated with the development and progression of fatty liver in mice exposed to e-cigarettes. In addition, the scientists found that genes associated with circadian rhythms) were altered in rodents exposed to E-cigarettes. Circadian rhythm dysfunction is known to accelerate the development of liver disease, including fatty diseases. “Our results provide support for policymakers and regulators to take preventive action to stop widespread use of e-cigarettes among children and adults,” Friedman said.