Scientists at one of America’s leading medical research universities warn that an “important” new study should serve as a serious wakeup call for e-cigarette smokers.
Frequent vaping can increase a person’s risk of developing high blood sugar — known in medical circles as prediabetes — which is reversible, but often leads to full-blown type 2 diabetes and a host of serious health problems later in life, according to the report published Wednesday in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
“Our study demonstrated a clear association of prediabetes risk with the use of e-cigarettes,” said lead study author Shyam Biswal, an environmental health science professor at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University, SWNS reported.
Biswal continued, “With both e-cigarette use and prevalence of prediabetes dramatically on the rise in the past decade, our discovery that e-cigarettes carry a similar risk to traditional cigarettes with respect to diabetes is important for understanding and treating vulnerable individuals.”
Researchers discovered the latest troubling link after analyzing the health data of more than 600,000 people across the US — more than 9% of whom were current e-cig users with self-reported prediabetes diagnoses.
They found that those who vape — a popular pastime among teens and 20-somethings — are 22% more likely to develop prediabetes than those who had never partaken. Meanwhile, traditional cigarette users were 40% more likely to suffer from the condition.
“In the case of cigarette smoking, nicotine has a detrimental effect on insulin action, and it appears that e-cigarettes may also have the same effect,” said Biswal, adding that participants who vaped were found to have worse mental and physical health than nonsmokers.
The link between electronic tobacco dispensers and prediabetes is still unclear. However, nicotine — which is found in both e-cigarettes and traditional cancer sticks — is known to spike blood-sugar levels. And, while prediabetes is reversible, it is a precursor to type 2 diabetes, a chronic condition which can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney failure and other serious complications.
Researchers found the correlation particularly alarming as e-cigarettes, which come in a Willy Wonka-esque range of flavors, ranging from green tea to strawberry kiwi, have been promoted by UK public health officials as a better alternative to the nonelectronic version. This past October, the US Food and Drug Administration made history after authorizing an electronic cigarette that the regulator says may help smokers cut back on traditional tobacco cigarettes.
“We were surprised by the findings associating prediabetes with e-cigarettes because they are touted as a safer alternative, which we now know is not the case,” said professor Biswal. This is problematic as “both e-cigarette use and prevalence of prediabetes” has seriously spiked since 2012, according to the researcher.
In order to buck the trend, scientists are imploring government officials to crack down on e-cigarette purveyors.
“Our effort for smoking cessation has led to a decrease in smoking traditional cigarettes,” said Biswal. “With this information, it’s time for us to ramp up our public health efforts to promote the cessation of e-cigarettes.”
In a victory for anti-vapers in June, e-cigarette giant Juul Labs agreed to pay $40 million to North Carolina to settle a lawsuit filed by the state accusing the manufacturer of marketing its products to minors. Meanwhile, in 2019, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a bill prohibiting the sale of flavored vaping products across the five boroughs.
However, not everyone is on board with the e-cigarette clampdown — some vaped crusaders blame the bans for causing cigarette use to increase for the first time in two decades.