WebMD Health News

More Data Blame Vitamin E as Vaping Cases Decline

vaping double lung transplant x-ray

This story was updated on Jan. 2, 2020, with new statistics from the CDC. 

Dec. 9, 2019 -- As cases of vaping-related lung injuries decline in the U.S., the CDC says it continues to find evidence that vitamin E is closely associated with the illness.

The agency found vitamin E acetate, used as a thickening agent, in 48 of 51 samples of lung fluid from patients with the illness.

But the epidemic is not over, Anne Schuchat, MD, principal deputy director, warned. 

As of Dec. 27, 2019, 2,561 hospitalized vaping-related cases have been reported to the CDC; 55 people have died.  The CDC says its belief the epidemic is on the wane comes from a decline in state reports of new cases and in related emergency department visits. "The outbreak is getting better," Schuchat said. "The level of new cases is greatly reduced and has been declining since a peak in September." 

However, officials have also found recently that readmission to the hospital can occur after patients have been treated and discharged. Those most prone to be readmitted include patients with chronic disease and older patients.  

Meanwhile, single THC-containing product brand appears responsible for the outbreak of lung injuries linked to the use of e-cigarette, or vaping, products, the CDC has found.

Overall, 152 different THC-containing product brands were reported by patients with EVALI (e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury), according to the first national data released Friday by the CDC. Dank Vapes, a class of largely counterfeit THC-containing products of unknown origin, and frequently mentioned as a cause of the outbreak, was the most commonly reported product nationwide.

While Dank Vapes was the most commonly reported product nationwide, many other brands have been linked with the outbreak. Brands also varied by region of the country.

  • Dank Vapes was most commonly reported by patients in the Northeast and South.
  • TKO and Smart Cart brands were cited by patients in the West.
  • Rove was more commonly reported in the Midwest.

The new information suggests that EVALI is linked with THC-containing products but not one single product brand, the CDC says. But it continues to advise people to avoid not only THC-containing products, but all e-cigarette or vaping products.

More About the New CDC Analysis

For the new report, officials looked at interview or medical records of patients hospitalized with a vaping-related illness to gather more information. They found:

  • The median patient age is 24, but ranges from 13 to 77, meaning half of the cases are among people ages 13 to 24.
  • 67% of patients are male.
  • 75% of patients are non-Hispanic white and 16% are Hispanic.
  • Fatalities range in age from 17 to 75, but the median age is 52, which means half of the patients who died were ages 52 to 75.
  • Use of THC-containing products was reported by 80% of patients.

Statistics indicate the outbreak may be waning. Since the peak number of hospitalizations the week of Sept. 15, cases have steadily declined. But new cases continue to be reported.

If people are using e-cigarettes to stop smoking cigarettes, the CDC advises them to use FDA-approved smoking cessation products rather than return to regular cigarettes. The FDA has approved prescription nicotine replacement therapy as well as the prescription medications bupropion (Zyban) and varenicline (Chantix). Over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapy such as skin patches, chewing gum, and lozenges are also available.

WebMD Health News Reviewed by Arefa Cassoobhoy, MD, MPH on December 09, 2019

Sources

Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report: Dec. 6, 2019.

CDC: Outbreak of Lung Injury Associated with the Use of E-Cigarette, or Vaping, Products: Dec. 6, 2019.

FDA: Want to Quit Smoking? FDA-Approved Products Can Help. Dec. 12, 2017 .

© 2019 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.