Thursday, 14 November, 2019

Vitamin E acetate, THC may be to blame for vaping illnesses

U.S. CDC reports 'breakthrough' in vaping lung injury probe as cases top 2,000 U.S. is focusing on Vitamin E as cause of vaping lung injuries
Anita Tucker | 09 November, 2019, 00:45

Federal health officials announced on Friday that they'd identified vitamin E acetate, an oil additive found in THC-based vape products, as a "very strong culprit" in the ongoing national outbreak of vaping-related lung illness that has sickened thousands and caused three deaths in MA.

The oily substance had previously been linked to lung illnesses and is used in the making of many e-cigarette liquids.

So far, there have been 2,051 cases of vaping associated illnesses, reported in every state, except for Alaska, as of November 5.

Health officials believe the dead and injured patients used psychoactive THC-containing liquids bought off the black market that were diluted with a common chemical additive that, under vaping conditions, becomes risky.

Scientists may finally know what's behind vaping lung illnesses that have sickened more than 2,000 in the United States: a combination THC and an oil derived from vitamin E, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Friday.

"This does not rule out other possible ingredients", Schuchat said. Vitamin E acetate is an additive in some THC-containing products.

Vitamin E acetate, which is used in food and skin care products without adverse effects, is used as a cutting agent or additive on the cannabis black market because it is colorless, odorless and cheap, and has a consistency similar to THC oil.

Beto O’Rourke announces he’s dropping 2020 presidential bid
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"These findings provide direct evidence of vitamin E acetate at the primary site of injury" in the lungs, Dr. Anne Schuchat, the principal deputy director of the CDC, said during a news conference today (Nov. 8).

Vitamin E acetate is not found in Juul products, for instance, though it's not yet clear what products besides those bought on the black market might have been using the additive, believing it to be harmless. The CDC also tested the samples for other chemicals commonly found or added to THC products, like mineral oil, terpenes and more, but none were detected in the samples.

The latest samples were collected through a process in which fluid is pushed into the lungs and then collected for analysis. The CDC's Dr. James Pirkle called the acetate "enormously sticky" and said it tends to linger in the lungs after inhaled, potentially causing cases of lung illness or death. Lab testing found THC, the ingredient that gives marijuana users a high, in 23 of 28 patient samples - including those from three patients who said they hadn't vaped THC products. Nicotine was detected in 16 of 26 patients.

Out of the 29 samples, 82% contained THC and 62% contained nicotine, the CDC said.

Nonetheless, Dr Schuchat said: 'These findings are significant, ' in the Friday press briefing.

Health officials continue to urge the public to avoid vaping and in particular, to avoid products that contain THC or that were purchased from informal sources. "When vitamin E acetate is inhaled, it may interfere with normal lung function", she said.

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