How Do E-cigarettes Affect Your Gut?
May 14 2018 Read 1168 Times
From silvery clouds of vapour to the syrupy scent of apples, strawberries and bubble-gum, e-cigarettes have quickly become the norm. According to the latest statistics around 2.3 million British adults, or roughly 4% of the population, class themselves as e-cigarette users. Furthermore, an additional 2.6 million admit they have tried them but aren't regular vapers.
While e-cigarettes are often touted as a "healthy" alternative to smoking, there's plenty of research suggesting they can trigger a host of issues. Now, vapers have been handed a break. New research published in the journal PeerJ suggests that people who smoke e-cigarettes have the same mix of gut bacteria as their non-smoking counterparts. In comparison, people who smoke traditional cigarettes suffer from significant changes in their gut composition.
Vaping promotes a healthier gut
The study was conducted at Newcastle University and compared the composition of gut microbiomes for tobacco smokers, e-cigarette smokers and non-smokers. The study was based on the concept that all human digestive systems house collections of microorganisms that either help or hinder bodily function. Using faecal, mouth, and saliva samples, the researchers used targeted gene sampling to record bacteria types and levels.
Interestingly, the most significant changes were noticed in the faecal samples. While the gut microbiomes of vapers and non-smokers appeared almost interchangeable, samples from tobacco smokers displayed higher levels of Prevotella, a potentially harmful bacterium that's linked to colon cancer. Levels of Bacteroides, a desirable probiotic that helps combat conditions like obesity and Crohn’s disease were also notably lower in smokers.
The secret sway of gut microbiomes
Recent studies back Stewart's idea that the gut microbiomes play a major role in influencing cognitive behaviour, sleeping patterns and moods. Other research suggests that parasites and bacteria in the gut could also be responsible for conditions like depression, as well as autoimmune diseases.
"The bacterial cells in our body outnumber our own human cells and our microbiome weighs more than our brain, yet we are only just beginning to understand its importance on our health," comments Dr Christopher Stewart, lead author of the paper.
While Stewart admits that the pilot study doesn't offer conclusive results, he does assert that it could help promote e-cigarettes as a tool for quitting smoking completely.
New research is continually reshaping the health sciences sphere. Spotlighting the latest findings from Louisiana State University, 'Strategies for Safe Evaporation of Solutions Containing Trifluoroacetic Acid' suggests laboratories minimise the use of glass, use TFA resistant materials and adopt easy to use purpose built control systems.
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