Spanish Hospital Reports World’s Second Ever Case of Lipoid Pneumonia Associated with E-Cigarette Use
Doctors at the University Hospital of La Coruña, in Spain, claim to have recently diagnosed the world’s second ever case of pneumonia associated with excessive e-cigarette use. The unnamed patient was apparently vaping large amounts of e-liquid on a daily basis.
The Spanish patient, identified by the media as a 50-year-old male, was visiting the hospital in La Coruña for other reasons, but began complaining of coughing, fatigue and breathlessness while there. After conducting a radiography, CAT scan and bronchoscopy, the hospital’s Bronchology Unit diagnosed the man with exogenous lipoid pneumonia. Upon further investigations, the doctors determined that the condition was caused by an excessive use of electronic cigarettes, more precisely by the vegetable based ingredient – vegetable glycerin – contained by the e-cig cartridges he was using.
The case of lipoid pneumonia associated with e-cigarette use, which is the first in Spain, and only the second in the world, was diagnosed a few days ago. The patient has since been cured and discharged. He is still using electronic cigarettes, only a considerable number of e-liquid cartridges as before. The doctors’ report suggests he was going through about five of them per day, which may have caused the pneumonia.
“We are seeing the emergence of a disease associated with the consumption of e-cigarettes” said Carlos Jimenez, director of research on smoking at the Spanish Society of Pneumology and Thoracic Surgery. Although lipoid pneumonia can be treated with medication, Jimenez considers it a “major health problem” that can be “very dangerous or even fatal”.
“We said they – electronic cigarettes – could introduce lipoid pneumonia, and unfortunately this has happened,” Jimenez added.
On the other hand, Spanish e-cigarette makers and business owners were quick to brush off the association between their products and the case of pneumonia diagnosed in La Coruña. “There is no proof that this illness was linked to use of an electronic cigarette,” Alex Rodriguez, vice-president of the National Electronic Cigarette Association (ANEV), said. “If in the 15 years that e-cigarettes have been around only two people in the world have caught light pneumonia from this product, we should say well done to it,” he told AFP.
ANEV’s president, Pedro Chair, said that “the arrival of electronic cigarettes in Spain is relatively recent, but in the United States they have been used for 12 year now, and in Italy for over 10 years, just two give two examples. According to statistics, there have been over 60 million e-cigarette users worldwide, in the last 12 years. In Spain, it’s estimated there are around one million vapers. Even if the patient diagnosed by the University Hospital of La Coruña was actually linked to e-cigarette use, according to their own data, it would be the second case reported in the whole world. We don’t believe it is representative.”
Truth be told, 2 cases in 60 million users worldwide is only 0.000003%, hardly even worth considering as a statistic, let alone a reason to deem electronic cigarette use as a cause for lipoid pneumonia. Still, if this case proves to in fact be linked to e-cigarettes, it should serve as a warning that, as everything on this Earth, e-cigs should be used in moderation. Too much alcohol, too much sugar, even too much water consumed in a short period of time can kill a person. Responsible e-cigarette makers provide a usage manual that also includes a recommended daily usage. If some users choose to ignore it, why should we blame electronic cigarettes in general?
Sadly, that’s exactly what the international media is doing, by using sensationalist titles and providing only half-truths. This obviously causes even more controversy and puts e-cigarettes in a bad light, steering away people who may otherwise give them a try and pushing them back to smoking cancer-causing tobacco cigarettes. Is this really how we should be treating a potentially life-saving product?
Photo: Joseph Morris/Flickr