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Vitamin E Acetate Confirmed as Major Factor in Vaping-Related Lung Illnesses

Recently published research lends credence to the theory that vitamin E acetate is a significant factor in the thousands of e-cigarette related lung illnesses reported across the country over the past several months.

Early laboratory data showed that vitamin E acetate, which is an additive in some e-cigarettes containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—the mind-altering ingredient in marijuana—was present in fluid samples collected from the lungs of patients last year.  Now a newer study reports similar findings.

Vitamin E acetate, though safe for personal care and supplement use, can be dangerous when inhaled into the lungs.

New Study Confirms Danger of Vitamin E Acetate in Vaping Products

For the new study, researchers collected fluid samples from the lungs of 51 patients with e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury (EVALI) in 16 states, and from 99 healthy participants.  They then measured levels of several potential toxins in those samples, including Vitamin E acetate, plant oils, triglyceride oil, coconut oil, petroleum distillates, and diluent terpenes.

Vitamin E acetate was found in the fluid from 48 of the 51 case-patients (94 percent), but not in the fluid obtained from the healthy controls.  No other toxins were found except for coconut oil and limonene, each of which was discovered in one patient.

Among the case-patients, 47 of 50 had THC or its metabolites in the fluid or had reported vaping THC products in the 90 days before the onset of the illness.

Nearly 3,000 People Affected by E-Cigarette Associated Lung Illness

As of February 18, 2020, a total of 2,807 people had been hospitalized and 68 died because of EVALI.  The good news is that since September 2019, the number of emergency department visits for the condition has declined.  That is likely because of increased awareness and the removal of vitamin E acetate from some products.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “National and state data from patient reports and product sample testing show THC-containing e-cigarette, or vaping, products, particularly when purchased from informal sources like family, friends, or in-person or online dealers, are linked to most EVALI cases and play a major role in the outbreak.”

Vitamin E acetate, which is often used to dilute THC-vaping solutions, has been found in product samples tested by the FDA and state laboratories, as well as inpatient lung fluid samples tested by the CDC.

This recent study adds more evidence suggesting that vitamin E acetate is largely to blame for these illnesses.

CDC Slowing Down on Updates About EVALI

Considering recent data and because of the continuing decline in new EVALI cases, the CDC noted that its latest release will be the final update on the number of hospitalized EVALI cases and deaths nationally.  The agency will continue to provide any other necessary updates as needed.

Meanwhile, the CDC and the FDA recommend that people not use THC-containing products, and refrain from adding vitamin E acetate to any vaping products.

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