Published: Fri, November 08, 2019
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

Vaping Illnesses Linked to Vitamin E Acetate, CDC Says

Vaping Illnesses Linked to Vitamin E Acetate, CDC Says

The severe lung injuries have puzzled health officials for months as a nationwide outbreak of the vaping-related illnesses erupted.

The same chemical compound was found in fluid taken from the lungs of 29 patients across the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

"These new findings are significant", Anne Schuchat, CDC principal deputy director, told reporters in a press conference.

Since vaping was discovered to be a common thread in the spate of lung illnesses that have killed 40 people in the U.S., scientists have been scrambling to discover the cause.

On Thursday, the CDC reported there have been 2,051 confirmed and probable U.S. lung injury cases associated with use of e-cigarette, or vaping, products in 49 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as 39 deaths. "For the first time we have identified a potential toxin of concern, in biologic samples. These findings provide direct evidence of vitamin E acetate at the primary site of injury within the lungs". THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, was found in the majority of samples and nicotine was found in about half of samples.

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Vitamin E acetate is found in lotions, shave gels, lip balms, shampoos, soaps, and anti-aging creams, as well as oral supplements. There is a distinct difference, however, between inhaling something and swallowing it. "When vitamin E acetate is inhaled, it may interfere with normal lung function", she said. The outbreak has reached every state with the exception of Alaska.

USA health officials have been sounding the alarm amid a nationwide outbreak of serous lung illnesses linked to vaping, and have raised concerns about the use of electronic smoking devices, particularly among youth.

The CDC says it also tested for a range of other chemicals that might be involved, such as plant oils or mineral oils. For the study, health investigators collected bronchoalveolar lavage fluid samples-that is fluid flushed into and then recollected from the lung through a tube inserted into the mouth or nose. A new technique for sampling lung fluid revealed that all of the patients tested-a convenience sample of 29 people from 10 states-had vitamin A acetate in their lungs.

The one substance that came up in all 29 was vitamin E acetate. "Until the relationship of vitamin E acetate and lung health is better characterized, it is important that vitamin E acetate not be added to e-cigarette, or vaping, products", the authors concluded. The findings are being published in Friday's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The compound - vitamin E acetate - was previously found in liquid from electronic cigarettes and other vaping devices used by many of those who got sick.

The vaping injury patients also had a higher rate of using "Dank Vapes", a class of largely counterfeit THC-containing products, according to the study.

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