Why vaping does not cause lipoid pneumonia

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Sep 24, 2009
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There have been three attempts to link vaping with deaths from lipoid pneumonia (common name: 'paraffin lung') in ecig users. The link is unlikely because:

- All of the fatalities occurred in persons with lungs severely compromised by smoking;
- Emphysema patients commonly develop pneumonia, and some die as a result;
- Lipoid pneumonia was not proven (full cell pathology was not provided and confirmed);
- Irrefutable evidence was not provided that the cases involved lipoid pneumonia rather than regular pneumonia;
- Inhalation of alcohols [1] cannot cause lipoid pneumonia as far as is known - indeed this would have been a world first. Any world first in the medical field is accompanied by significant publicity in medical journals, accompanied by press releases; and where an attack can be also be made on THR at the same time, for profit, a massive publicity campaign would also have been seen.

If there were any truth in the matter we should have expected wide publicity in the medical press, with detailed cell pathology and case history/ies, with a strong case being made by the (rather obviously) anti-THR person involved with the propaganda attempt. None of this occurred; and the reason why such a powerful opportunity to attack and discredit ecigs with very useful evidence of a problem was not taken is very clear: none of it would have stood up to scrutiny.

Any researcher who can demonstrate that inhalation of alcohols is associated with lipoid pneumonia will have established a world first. Because no such opportunity has been taken illustrates the fact that it cannot be demonstrated, since the funding to assist with such work is likely to be extensive.

The only connection that can be found between vaping and lipoid pneumonia is that a doctor connected with a fatality at Gateshead, UK, said that the patient's bottle of e-liquid "looked oily". This is not really science - although it may pass for it in Public Health.

Smokers with advanced lung conditions such as emphysema / COPD stage 3 or 4 should not inhale anything further; if they wish to switch, then Snus would be the best choice. If they have to vape, then VG-only is probably not the best choice: a proportion of PG seems a good idea in order to assist with elimination of pathogens, since PG is one of the most powerful bactericides and virucides known, when dispersed as an aerosol. This is why it is used as the carrier in the nebulisers used by lung transplant patients.

[1] PG (propylene glycol) and glycerine (more accurately, glycerol) are alcohols, as can be seen from the -ol suffix. They are not oils. Lipoid pneumonia is caused by inhalation of fumes from mineral or vegetable oils. Examples:
  • Paraffin - which is why lipoid pneumonia is called paraffin lung. It is the occupational disease of fire-eaters, due to the paraffin-soaked wads they keep in their mouths; and is also seen in the elderly, who may use paraffin regularly for constipation and who can inhale the fumes.
  • Ghee - purified butter is given to infants in some cultures, and inhalation of the fumes sometimes causes the condition.
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