Health & Wellbeing

Vaping crisis spreads as new study offers contradictory hypothesis

Vaping crisis spreads as new s...
New research blames direct tissue damage, most likely caused by toxic chemical fumes, for the current vaping crisis
New research blames direct tissue damage, most likely caused by toxic chemical fumes, for the current vaping crisis
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New research blames direct tissue damage, most likely caused by toxic chemical fumes, for the current vaping crisis
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New research blames direct tissue damage, most likely caused by toxic chemical fumes, for the current vaping crisis

An article published in The New England Journal of Medicine from a team of Mayo Clinic researchers is raising doubts over the previously floated hypothesis that "lipid pneumonia" is responsible for the current vaping crisis. Based on reviews of lung tissue biopsies the new research claims there is no evidence of oil accumulation but instead identifies direct tissue damage most likely caused by toxic chemical fumes.

As of late September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 805 confirmed and probable cases of lung injury associated with e-cigarette use or vaping. Twelve deaths are confirmed as being related to the condition with several more under investigation, and the cases now span 46 American states.

Several weeks ago a University of Utah team presented a strong hypothesis suggesting the mystery illness to be a new form of lipoid pneumonia. This was based on close investigation of several local cases revealing lipid-laden macrophages in the lungs of all studied patients. The hypothesis was that certain vaporized oils enter patients’ lungs triggering the acute condition.

The new Mayo Clinic research counters this hypothesis. After studying lung biopsies from 17 patients the researchers found no trace of lipid accumulation.

"While we can't discount the potential role of lipids, we have not seen anything to suggest this is a problem caused by lipid accumulation in the lungs,” says Brandon Larsen, a surgical pathologist from the Mayo Clinic. “Instead, it seems to be some kind of direct chemical injury, similar to what one might see with exposures to toxic chemical fumes, poisonous gases and toxic agents.”

No single product or liquid unified all 17 studied patients, although 71 percent were noted as vaping marijuana or THC oil. The new research suggests the lung illness seems to be caused by direct tissue damage from chemical contaminants or other noxious agents within vape liquids.

"We were not surprised by what we found, regarding toxicity," says Larsen. "We have seen a handful of cases, scattered individual cases, over the past two years where we've observed the same thing, and now we are seeing a sudden spike in cases.”

A recent statement from the CDC offers a reminder that there still seems to be no singular cause or corresponding factor linking all the identified cases outside of straightforward e-cigarette use. An analysis of 514 patients by the CDC found 77 percent used THC-containing products, while 16 percent exclusively used nicotine products.

The new research was published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Source: Mayo Clinic

5 comments
MarkGovers
Just piping up here in case it might help. With an educated guess based on my work as a preventative health researcher. I suspect there may be too much food for bacteria in these vape recipes. Most bacteria love sweet, sticky, wet environments.
Brian M
Given the increasing number of cases over the relative short life of these products, what are the likely health costs going to be in 30 or 40 years - Maybe its time to place them in the same category as traditional smoking with regards to advertising, use in enclosed/public spaces and taxation etc.
Paul Muad'Dib
You can't use sugar or anything else for that matter that supports bacteria growth in any e-cig fluid for functional reasons.
paul314
Maybe next time, a "prove it doesn't kill you" standard for putting things like this on the market instead of "prove it absolutely does kill you" before being able to pass significant regulation.
buzzclick
Seventy seven percent from THC vaping? OK, let's have data about the amounts used and frequencies of vape smokers. I am convinced vaping is less detrimental than cigarettes, but anything done to excess will produce negative outcomes.