Vaping and Liver Damage: An Overview of the Hazards
As the popularity of vaping continues to grow, there is an increasing body of evidence that it can have a detrimental impact on users’ health. One of the more serious consequences is the possible damage to the liver. In this article, we’ll examine the links between vaping and liver damage and discuss how this potential risk can be addressed.
Overview of Potential Liver Damage From Vaping
Vaping can be an effective tool to help people quit smoking cigarettes, but it does come with its risks. Many of these risks are well-documented, such as nicotine addiction and the inhalation of a variety of toxins, but one of the lesser-known risks is potential liver damage. While more research is needed in this area, the current data suggests that vaping can lead to changes in the biomarkers of the liver – such as the enzymes ALT, AST, alkaline phosphatase, and bilirubin – indicating that long term vaping may lead to liver damage.
Importance of Vaping and Liver Research
It is important to understand the potential detrimental effects of vaping on the liver as vaping continues to grow in popularity and become a popular way to transition out of traditional tobacco smoking. Knowledge about the effects of vaping on the liver can help inform health professionals and public health officials in advising and promoting healthy and safe vaping habits, as well as help assess the potential risk and danger of vaping.
Vaping and Liver Disease
The emerging link between vaping and liver disease suggests that not only could e-cigarettes trigger existing liver disease but also potentially contribute to the development of new cases. From the limited studies published to date, research indicates potential damage to liver cells, as well as increases in some liver enzyme levels which could be used to detect early signs of liver injury. Further research is needed to fully determine the long-term implications of vaping on the liver, but the current data is worrying enough to suggest that vaping could have severe implications for liver health.
The Emerging Evidence
One of the earliest pieces of evidence linking e-cigarette use to potential damage to the liver was a 2016 study which showed that vaping liquid without nicotine increased the levels of AST, ALT, and alkaline phosphatase in the liver. Another study in 2017 found that toxic chemicals were also released when vaping e-cigarettes – specifically volatile organic compounds, which are known to be associated with several health risks to humans. Due to the hazardous effects of these chemicals, long term exposure can lead to severe health problems – including liver disease.
More recently, the US Surgeon General released a report in 2019 linking the use of nicotine in e-cigarettes to ‘disturbances in brain functioning’ and potential damage to the developing brain. Furthermore, a small study published in the same year found that when compared to non-smokers, e-cigarette users had a slightly higher presence of liver injury biomarkers in their blood stream.
The increasing evidence linking e-cigarette use to potential liver damage is concerning, and further research is needed to more fully understand the implications of vaping on the liver. However, it is already clear that vaping can, in certain circumstances, lead to liver damage and should be closely monitored and controlled to minimize the health risks posed to users.