Vaping research points to 'toxic fumes' as illness cause
New Mayo Clinic research published Wednesday, Oct. 2, found that lung injuries from vaping most likely are caused by direct toxicity or tissue damage from noxious chemical fumes.
Researchers published their study in The New England Journal of Medicine after a study reviewed lung biopsies from 17 patients, all of whom had vaped and were suspected to have vaping-associated lung injury. The study was the first to examine a group of biopsies from patients with lung injury due to vaping.
Dr. Brandon Larson, a surgical pathologist at Mayo Clinic Arizona, and a national expert in lung pathology, said the biopsies found lung damage similar to "some kind of direct chemical injury, similar to what one might see with exposures to toxic chemical fumes, poisonous gases and toxic agents."
The research comes as Oregon health officials are considering a ban on some vaping products. Eight people in Oregon have died of vaping-related illnesses since early September.
The Oregon Health Authority urged on people to stop vaping until federal and state officials determine the cause of the lung injuries and deaths linked to cannabis and nicotine products.
Public health crisis
Oregon's first fatality was announced on Sept. 3. All the cases are part of a national outbreak of severe lung injury linked to vaping and e-cigarette use.
"People should stop vaping immediately," said Dr. Dean Sidelinger, Oregon health officer. "If you vape, whether it's cannabis, nicotine or other products, please quit. These are addictive substances, and we encourage people to take advantage of free resources to help them quit."
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported more than 800 lung injury cases associated with vaping. Twelve deaths have been confirmed in 10 states. An investigation is pointing to products with cannabis oils.
"We were not surprised by what we found, regarding toxicity," Larsen said. "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. Our study offers the first detailed review of the abnormalities that may be seen in lung biopsies to help clinicians and pathologists make a diagnosis in an appropriate clinical context."
Larsen called the vaping deaths "a public health crisis."
"Based on what we have seen in our study, we suspect that most cases involve chemical contaminants, toxic byproducts or other noxious agents within vape liquids," he said.
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