A new study reveals that those who vape may be putting themselves at risk for diabetes, even if they don’t smoke regular cigarettes.
Researchers discovered that persons who used electronic cigarettes were more likely to have prediabetes than people who had never vaped or smoked in a study of more than 600,000 adults in the United States. Even e-cigarette users who claimed they had never smoked regular cigarettes showed the association.
Prediabetes is a condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than they should be but not yet high enough to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
According to senior researcher Shyam Biswal, a professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health in Baltimore, the data do not indicate that vaping causes prediabetes.
However, he noted that cigarette smoking has been related to an increased risk of diabetes. Nicotine, as well as compounds in tobacco smoke, has been found in studies to affect the body’s capacity to control blood sugar.
E-cigarettes also contain nicotine, as well as their own proprietary blend of “e-liquid” compounds, the effects of which are still unknown.
As a result, it’s “absolutely feasible,” according to Biswal, that vaping could increase diabetes risk as well.
The findings add to the growing body of knowledge about the dangers of vaping on one’s health.
E-cigarettes function by heating a liquid containing nicotine as well as other ingredients such as propylene glycol, glycerol, and flavoring. The heat produces a “vapor,” which contains more hazardous compounds that are inhaled.
Dr. Panagis Galiatsatos, a volunteer medical spokeswoman for the American Lung Association (ALA), cautioned that the brew is far from “safe”.
Vaping, like cigarette smoking, can cause low-grade inflammation throughout the body. It’s hardly surprising, Galiatsatos added, to see vaping connected to a condition like prediabetes, given that systemic inflammation underpins a variety of disease processes.
Still, because vaping is such a new phenomenon, it’s unclear whether it poses the same long-term health hazards as smoking, such as emphysema, heart disease, and cancer.
According to Galiatsatos, research on shorter-term “surrogate outcomes” is developing a case against e-cigarettes.
Vaping, for example, has been shown in studies to decrease blood vessel function right away. A new ALA-funded study indicated that young individuals who vape are more likely to develop wheezing and dry cough problems within a year of starting the habit.
Biswal’s team used data from an annual federal health survey that includes a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults for the current study. They looked at almost 600,000 Americans who were polled between 2016 and 2018.
Overall, cigarette smokers were more likely than vapers to indicate they had been diagnosed with prediabetes: roughly 13% of cigarette smokers said they had been diagnosed, compared to 9% of vapers.
E-cigarette users, on the other hand, had a higher risk of developing the disease than persons who had never smoked or vaped. Only e-cigarette users were 54% more likely to have been diagnosed with prediabetes than those who had never smoked a traditional cigarette.
After accounting for key major characteristics that increase prediabetes risks, such as age, obesity, exercise habits, and education level, the researchers arrived at that figure.
That does not rule out the possibility that vaping is to blame, according to Biswal. “This study, though,” he noted, “definitely provides a serious reason to be cautious.”
That, according to Biswal, is partly due to the larger context: vaping has grown in popularity among teenagers and young people at a time when prediabetes is also on the rise.
“There’s a significant fear that e-cigarettes are perceived as a safer option [to smoking] among the younger population,” Biswal added. “However, there is mounting evidence that e-cigarettes are not safe.”
E-cigarettes are also not a proven technique to quit smoking.
Smokers who want to quit can talk to their doctor about FDA-approved cessation drugs, according to Galiatsatos.
He pointed out that “e-cigarettes have never gone through that FDA approval procedure.”
Article credit: Private MD Labs