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CDC Finally Names Vitamin E as Vaping Illness Culprit




Up to nearly 40 deaths have been linked to vaping, but until recently, the ingredients causing lipoid pneumonia and other types of pulmonary illness haven’t been officially recognized. As early as September, vitamin E acetate has been singled out by a number of experts as the underlying cause of vaping illness, but only now, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified the ingredient as a root cause. 

On Nov. 8, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a press briefing transcript and recording announcing that vitamin E Acetate is the culprit behind the string of vaping illnesses. Vitamin E acetate was found in all 29 samples of lung fluid from patients who suffer from vaping injuries.

“These new findings are significant because for the first time, we have detected a potential toxin of concern—vitamin E acetate—in biologic samples from patients with lung injuries associated with the use of e-cigarette or vaping products,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, the CDC’s principal deputy director. “These findings provide direct evidence of vitamin E acetate at the primary site of injury within the lungs.” Schuchat added that the findings don’t necessarily rule out the presence of other harmful chemicals that could also be to blame.

Last October, CDC officials issued interim guidance that gave the vaping illness a name. CDC officials call it “e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury (EVALI).”

“The e–liquids, before being heated and aerosolized, have less than half the total number of chemicals that your lungs actually see,” Laura Crotty Alexander, MD, told WebMD. “The fact they are looking at the chemical profile in the lung is a more powerful method. They are looking at the chemicals that actually reach the lungs.”

Most vaping-related illness claims involve vaping products that were bought illegally, although there are some anecdotal reports of vaping products purchased at legal dispensaries as well.