Liver Damage Study Retracted

Gastroenterology Research journal published a study claiming to have found a link between vaping and “chronic” liver disease. Immediately, experts saw obvious flaws in the paper but the authors failed to address worries raised regarding their methodology and the trustworthiness of the team’s findings. Consequently, Gastroenterology Research has been forced to retract the junk science.

"Association of Smoking and E-Cigarette in Chronic Liver Disease: An NHANES Study”, was conducted by a team from various institutions across the United States and the Universidad Catolica de Santiago de Guayaquil.

“There is an increased trend of e-cigarette but the toxic effects of e-cigarette metabolites are not widely studied especially in liver disease. Hence, we aimed to evaluate the prevalence and patterns of recent e-cigarette use in a nationally representative sample of US adults and adolescents and its association amongst respondents with liver disease,” the team said.

And evaluate they did.

“In our study, we found that e-cigarette users were associated with higher odds of having a history of liver disease in comparison to non-smokers. These results show that smoking, whether e-cigarette or traditional smoking, has influence on the progression of liver disease,” they wrote.

In addition, they claimed vaping is associated with being wealthy, white and educated. They also claimed to find evidence that vapers are more likely to be heavy drinkers.

They concluded that future prospective studies are needed to continue to look into the effects of e-cigarette on liver disease. They stated their findings means that public health practitioners and policy makers “should consider more strong evidence of the toxic effects of e-cigarette when making decisions about regulations of e-cigarette in the United States”.

Following the receipt of complaints about the study, Gastroenterology Research has finally released a statement, saying: “After publication of this article, concerns have been raised regarding the article’s methodology, source data processing including statistical analysis, and reliability of conclusions, the authors failed to provide valid explanations and rebuttal for these concerns, thus this article has been retracted at the request of Editor-in-Chief.”

The journal has not published the complaint letter, saying it would only do so if the authors had responded to the questions it raised.

Gregory Conley, a director at the American Vapor Manufacturers Association, told Filter Magazine: “This is a greater problem than just one study.”

Conley is correct.

Vapers have seen many poor quality studies over the years making all kinds of outlandish claims based on fraudulent use of data or irresponsible and unreliable methods of data collection. And then there was the plain inept.

It is high time journals took a stronger line with regards peer review to prevent shoddy science from seeing the light of day.


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