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CDC: Don’t vape, especially THC



Federal health officials once again are warning individuals to refrain from using all e-cigarette and vaping products, especially those containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

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The restated warning, issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is based on a study of 83 patients with e-cigarette, or vaping, product use–associated lung injury (EVALI) in Utah, where researchers found several common characteristics, most strikingly the use of THC-containing products.

Fifty-three patients were interviewed by researchers. Of them, 49 (92%) reported use of THC-containing e-cigarette or vaping products during the 3 months preceding illness; 35 (66%) reported using nicotine-containing products; and 32 (60%) reported using both THC- and nicotine-containing products.

In addition, 17 (32%) patients reported exclusive use of THC-containing products, whereas only 3 (6%) reported exclusive use of nicotine-containing products. Non-medical THC use is illegal in Utah.

The median age of patients was 26 years, 3 years older than the national median; more than one-third were aged 30 years or older, according to the researchers.

Utah is seeing a higher-than-average rate of EVALI cases, with 26/million cases, compared with 4/million nationally.

Vitamin E acetate has been considered to have a suspect role in EVALI and was identified in the majority of THC cartridge samples tested in this study; however, those samples represented only six patients, according to the researchers. They added that testing of different THC cartridge samples by the Food and Drug Administration and other laboratories has shown vitamin E acetate concentrations of 31%-88% and lower-than-expected THC concentrations (14%-76% versus the typically advertised 75%-95%).

“The potential role of vitamin E acetate in lung injury remains unknown; however, the identification of vitamin E acetate among products collected from patients in Utah and elsewhere indicates that the outbreak might be associated with cutting agents or adulterants. Ascertaining the potential contribution of diluents to the current outbreak will require data from multiple states and analysis at the national level,” the researchers concluded.

The authors reported that they had no conflicts.

SOURCE: Lewis N et al. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. Early Release. Oct. 22, 2019. 68:1-5.

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