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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

University at Buffalo: Researchers Contribute to CDC Report on Cause of Vaping-related Lung Injuries

A University at Buffalo epidemiologist and two graduates of the University at Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions epidemiology PhD program contributed to a significant Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report published in the New England Journal of Medicine that links vitamin E acetate as an e-cigarette additive to the outbreak of e-cigarette, or vaping, product-use associated lung injury (EVALI) cases. The cases largely involved users who were vaping tetrahydrocannabinol, a main compound in cannabis.

As of Dec. 31, the CDC reported that 2,561 people in 50 states — plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands — were hospitalized for vaping-related illnesses, and 55 people died from these lung ailments.

Dr. Jo L. Freudenheim, chair of epidemiology and environmental health in UB’s School of Public Health and Health Professions, is a co-author on the paper as a member of the Lung Injury Response Laboratory Working Group, as is Dr. Ted Brasky, who received bachelor’s and doctoral degrees at UB and is assistant professor of internal medicine at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Dr. Brian King is a co-author on the main list of contributors to the paper. Dr. King received his master’s and PhD in epidemiology at UB and is deputy director for research translation in the CDC Office on Smoking and Health.

“Understanding the origin of this outbreak of e-cigarette-related lung disease is of critical public health importance,” Dr. Freudenheim said.

Bronchoalveolar-lavage fluid (BAL) was collected from 51 patients with EVALI and 99 healthy participants. Vitamin E acetate was identified in BAL fluid obtained from 48 of the 51 patients, and in none from the healthy group.

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