A new observational study has found a link between e-cigarette use (vaping) and the potentially increased risk of fragility fractures, raising concerns about bone health. The link was found even in younger users, according to the researchers behind the study, who also found that smoking and vaping combined can significantly increase the risk of a fracture.
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The new study was recently published in Elsevier’s American Open Journal of Medicine; it details the results of an observational study that extracted data from the National Health and Nutrition Survey (NHANES).
The research looked at information on more than 5,500 adults in the United States, 81.2% of whom said they had never used electronic cigarettes. The remaining 18.8% of people included in the sample reported having vaped at some point, while 8% of people included in the overall sample reported having suffered fragility fractures.
According to the new study, a fragility fracture refers to a fracture of the wrist, hip or spine suffered as a result of minimal trauma, such as a fall from a standing height (or less). The NIH goes on to say that fragility fractures are a sign of osteoporosis, a disease involving weakened bones that makes them more vulnerable to injury.
Based on an analysis of the data, researchers found a link between a higher risk of fragility fractures and vaping compared to participants who reported never vaping. Additionally, and of more concern to smokers who find it difficult to make the switch, the study also found a link between the combined use of cigarettes and vapers and a higher risk of these bone fractures compared to people who only used cigarettes.
Researchers say vaping may ultimately be a risk factor for osteoporotic fractures, with e-cigarette users potentially increasing their risk over time (via EurekAlert). The researchers behind the study point out that cigarette consumption is an established risk factor for the development of fragility fractures and osteoporosis. The new observational study helps shed light on a similar potential risk between the disease and vaping, something that has not been explored before.
Growing List of Concerns
The increased use of electronic cigarettes has fueled growing efforts to study the habit and its impact on short and long term health. While many questions remain, several studies have highlighted the potential health consequences associated with vaping, including changes in bacteria that can increase the risk of oral disease, an increased risk of lung diseases like COPD, and inflammation. chronic which may affect the intestine.
Despite the risks, e-cigarettes may be a less harmful alternative for smokers looking to quit. Numerous studies have shown that although vaping is not a healthy activity, it can be considerably less harmful than tobacco cigarettes. Public health agencies are still exploring how best to balance these two realities, protecting young people from developing vaping habits while providing a way for smokers to switch from cigarettes to something potentially less harmful.
The biggest push at this point is with flavored vaping liquids, which critics say are more appealing to teens who otherwise might never use tobacco products. In August, a coalition of states in the United States called on the FDA to ban all vaping liquids that have flavors appealing to teens, including mint, menthol, candy, and fruit.
Weeks later, the FDA officially authorized a nicotine vape for the first time, but notably extended its authorization only to liquid tobacco flavors, rejecting requests for other liquid flavors.
Despite the apparent logic of targeting flavors that appeal to teens, such bans may not work as intended. In May, Yale University released a study that found that San Francisco’s ban on flavored tobacco products – including vaping liquids – may have led teens to simply switch from vapes to tobacco cigarettes. .