Vaping may lead to a condition called leaky gut, the ramifications of which are chronic inflammation and related diseases. The findings come from the University of California – San Diego, where researchers found that the chemicals in nicotine-free vape liquids may disrupt the gut barrier. The study joins a growing body of research finding potential health consequences associated with electronic cigarettes.
Put simply, the gut lining contains a layer of cells that keep microbes from entering the rest of the body — and when that layer is compromised, allowing the microbes to get out of the intestines, the condition is called leaky gut. The health issue leads to chronic inflammation, which itself is linked to a variety of conditions ranging from heart disease to cancer.
The study involved models of the human gut made from cells. A simulation was used to determine the effect vapor has on the lining, followed by mice models to validate the results. The cells were exposed to vaping liquid intended to mimic the amount used by a ‘chronic vaper,’ according to the researchers.
The findings were concerning: the chemicals that result when the liquid is vaporized were found to loosen or break apart the proteins forming the intestine’s first line of defense. The vapor by-products were then able to reach the immune system, triggering an inflammation response among epithelial cells.
The study notes that these cells were ‘quickly overwhelmed’ when exposed to the liquid, making them less capable of clearing away pathogens. The result was inflammation in the gut. That inflammation, in addition to potentially being painful, can lead to the development of diseases, highlighting a potential long-term health impact from vaping.