The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are investigating a lung injury outbreak registered across the United States since the beginning of October. While the cause of the outbreak remains unknown, the CDC warn against using e-cigarettes, particularly those that contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or nicotine.
Although vaping products and electronic cigarettes are often advertised as less harmful than regular cigarettes, the debate over the health effects of e-cigarettes is ongoing.
While most reviews have concluded that the evidence is insufficient to make a judgment on the safety of e-cigarettes, a recent outbreak of lung injuries makes it difficult to ignore the potential harms of vaping devices.
Currently, the CDC have recorded almost 1,300 lung injury cases associated with the use of e-cigarettes. These cases occurred across 49 of the 50 states in the U.S., and 26 of the cases resulted in death.
The CDC, together with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other public health organizations, are currently investigating the outbreak. Until they find the cause, the CDC warn against using THC-containing products.
They also advise that people "consider refraining" from using vaping products that contain nicotine.
THC products 'play a major role'
So far, the data gathered suggest that THC-containing products are key in the outbreak, as they are "linked to most of the cases."
Specifically, 76% of the people with lung injuries reported using THC-containing products, and 36% reported using them exclusively for 3 months before the symptoms appeared.
In particular, THC vaping products obtained "off the street" or from family members or friends "play a major role in the outbreak," the CDC conclude.
"Therefore, CDC recommends that you should not use e-cigarette, or vaping, products that contain THC."
Additionally, most — that is, 58% — of the people with these injuries who knew what their vaping products contained reported using nicotine products. Some used nicotine products as well as other types, such as those that contain THC.
However, 13% of this group exclusively vaped products that contained nicotine.
"Therefore, the possibility that nicotine-containing products play a role in this outbreak cannot be excluded," the CDC say, which is why they recommend "that people consider refraining from using e-cigarette, or vaping, products that contain nicotine."
Cause remains unknown
The CDC do not yet know what has caused the outbreak.
The public health institute recognize, however, that there may be more than one cause, as vaping products contain many different chemicals, which are all currently under investigation.
Until the causes become clear, the CDC state that people:
- "Should not use e-cigarette, or vaping, products that contain THC.
- Should not buy any type of e-cigarette, or vaping, products, particularly those containing THC, off the street.
- Should not modify or add any substances to e-cigarette, or vaping, products that are not intended by the manufacturer, including products purchased through retail establishments."
They also warn against smoking regular cigarettes, particularly if a person is using vaping to quit smoking. The CDC advise people to seek out methods of quitting smoking that have been recommended by healthcare providers and approved by the FDA.