HOUSTON — From the Houston Health Department to the F.D.A., everyone is trying to get a handle on what the C.D.C. is calling an "outbreak of lung illnesses” associated with these vape pens.
KHOU 11 confirmed that the National Institutes of Health and the F.D.A. are talking with a research team at the Baylor College of Medicine about a recent study that found harmful effects related to the components of solvents used in vape oil.
The team of researchers, led by Dr. Farrah Kheradmand, investigated the effects of chronic exposure to e-cigarette vapors when compared to traditional cigarettes. They wanted to see which is worse. This four month-long study was done with four groups of mice.
And those mice were smoking up a storm, the equivalent of a smoker who started in their teens and smoked for about 40 more years.
As expected, the mice chronically exposed to cigarette smoke had severely damaged lungs and excessive inflammation that is similar to emphysema. And in the group of mice only exposed to e-cigarette vapors but no nicotine, doctors found the safe solvents used to make a product 'vapable' also damaged the lungs.
They found evidence of an abnormal buildup of fat in the lungs, which interferes with normal lung behavior. Researchers say the lipid buildup didn't come directly from the solvents, but rather from an abnormal reaction inside the protective lining of the lungs.
When asked if the fatty lungs found in the mice exposed to vapors could be what's happening with teens across the U.S., Dr. Kheradmand said this:
"We believe that the solvents in vape (PG/VG ratios) which is commonly used in commercial shops, disrupts normal turnover of fat and proteins in the lungs. What we found in mice, is similar to the “mystery cases” described in teens. However we did not examine our studies in humans to be certain of the similar processes."
When asked what Dr. Kheradmand thinks is the reason behind the sudden outbreak of teen hospitalizations linked to vaping, she said:
"It may be that teens are hooked on this new recreational activity and over indulging on it to the point that they develop a more severe form of fat in the lung cells. They could also use other products including more illicit drugs. We have not tested that in our lab animals."
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