BEIRUT: Health officials have been raising alarms about products touted as healthier alternatives for smokers, yet the caution has taken on new urgency in recent weeks as frightening health consequences are quickly emerging.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a press release on August 6 announcing that the number of vaping-related illnesses jumped to at least 450 cases in 33 states, and five deaths linked to the vaping-related respiratory illness.
“The catastrophic problem is that these delivery devices are released in the market before any scientific study is made. and then science, as usual, comes late in knowing what's in,” Dr. Nadim Kanj, Pulmonologist at AUBMC, told Annahar.
In its report, CDC cautioned people against using e-cigarettes, especially those bought off the street, and advised people to stay away from vaping devices while investigators work to pinpoint exactly what’s behind the illnesses. Meanwhile, Los Angeles County health officials also called for a vaping moratorium.
In its turn, the federal health organization also urged Americans to stop using e-cigarettes as the investigation is undergoing.
The Food and Drug Administration has tested 120 product samples, and so far has been unable to identify any brand, ingredient or substance that could explain the illnesses.
CDC officials currently believe that these cases involve chemical exposure, rather than an infection. Laboratory testing has identified one possible culprit — vitamin E acetate.
CDC explained that the investigation is focusing on lab tests from New York state health officials that showed vitamin E acetate in many of the cannabis e-cigarette cartridges that caused sickness.
Along with many serious cases, anecdotal evidence reveals some of their impacts mirrors that of traditional cigarettes. Patients have experienced respiratory symptoms, some have also experienced gastrointestinal symptoms or nonspecific constitutional symptoms such as fatigue or weight loss.
Until the investigation into the cause of this epidemic of vaping-induced respiratory illness is complete, no conclusions can be drawn as to which compound or compounds are the main cause.
In light of these cases, doctors are urging an increase in public awareness of the harmful effect of vaping.
For now, the spate of illness tied to vaping is a reminder that there are a lot of products out there that haven’t been tested by officials or regulated in any way.
“The problem might also arise as to how can we quit e-cigarettes if we replace it to standard cigarettes,” Kanj told Annahar.
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