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Sixth death reported due to mysterious lung illness related to vaping

Sixth death reported due to mysterious lung illness related to vaping

Health officials in the state of Kansas confirmed the first death caused by a serious lung disease related to using e-cigarettes or vaping. This is the sixth death of this nature reported in the country. 

In a news release, health officials said that the resident was more than 50 years old with a history of health issues. The person was hospitalized with symptoms that progressed rapidly. Officials reported that they do not have complete information on the nature of the products which were used by the patient. 

The national investigation did not identify any specific e-cigarette products related to the cases. Several people reported using vaping products with liquids containing cannabinoid products such as THC. It is the main ingredient present in marijuana which causes the high. 

Officials in Minnesota and Los Angeles reported deaths in older persons previously. The Kansas death takes the tally for a middle-aged person to a minimum of four. 

The patient in Minnesota had a history of lung problems and was hospitalized with a serious lung injury. It was related to the use of illicit THC products. The patient was more than 65 years old and died after being hospitalized for a long period of time. 

The death of a middle-aged person was also reported in Oregon who died of respiratory illness due to the use of an e-cigarette that contained marijuana oil. The person had bought it at a legal dispensary and this was the first death related to a vaping product that was bought at a shop.

Deaths have also been reported in Indiana and Illinois however no information was provided about the type of products and their ages. It is now suspected that there is a minimum of 450 possible cases in 33 states where illnesses are caused due to the consumption of contaminants or counterfeit products in e-cigarettes. The possible culprits for the illnesses could be the adulterants in vaping products having THC. 

For these mysterious illnesses and severe symptoms in patients, health investigators are focusing on the contaminants rather than the standard vaping products that are being used for several years. US Food and Drug Administration found an oil that is derived from Vitamin E, vitamin E acetate in cannabis products collected from the patients who fell ill. This was also found in the samples from the patients who reported illness in New York recently. 

New York officials will be issuing subpoenas to three companies in the charge of selling “thickening agents” which contain high Vitamin E levels. Black market dealers have been using it to dilute the THC oil in illegal products. 

inhaler copd

Steroids can reduce lung cancer risk in COPD patients

For many people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD, a steroid inhaler is a daily necessity to keep their airways open and help them to breathe. Now, a new UBC analysis shows that these medicated devices may also reduce patients’ risk of lung cancer by as much as 30 per cent.

The researchers evaluated 10 years’ worth of medical and pharmacy data for 39,676 adults in British Columbia who were diagnosed with COPD, including 994 people who were later diagnosed with lung cancer. They compared outcomes for people who took inhaled steroids versus those who used beta agonists, another class of drugs used to treat COPD.

Beta agonists, which work by relaxing muscles in the lungs to widen the airways, are the first choice of treatment for COPD. But doctors will often prescribe steroids, which reduce the number of inflammatory cells called eosinophils in the lungs, for more severe cases.

“Results showed that if you had COPD and consistently used a steroid inhaler, your chances of getting lung cancer were between 25 per cent and 30 per cent lower compared to people who took other treatments,” said study author Larry Lynd, a professor who leads the Collaboration for Outcomes Research and Evaluation project at UBC’s faculty of pharmaceutical sciences and an associate member of the faculty of medicine.

COPD is a group of diseases, including emphysema and chronic bronchitis, that hamper airflow to the lungs and cause serious long-term disability and early death. Although there is no cure, treatments can help manage the disease.

“In Canada alone, more than 700,000 people have been diagnosed with COPD,” said study co-author Don Sin, a professor of medicine at UBC and the Canada Research Chair in COPD. “These results highlight the importance of identifying which of those patients may be at the highest risk for lung cancer and may benefit from therapy with inhaled steroids.”

The study, recently published in European Respiratory Journal, is limited by its reliance on administrative data, which limits the scope of data available for analysis, and the fact that COPD diagnosis was based solely on prescription records. For the next stage in this research, the researchers plan to do studies to understand how steroids reduce lung cancer risk in COPD patients.

“More work is clearly needed to understand the exact nature of the relationship between lung cancer risks and steroid use,” said Lynd. “Over the next few months, we will find out which COPD patients would benefit the most from inhaled steroids.”

Materials provided by University of British Columbia