PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - A local doctor's medical study is drawing a lot of attention over the link between a patient's diagnosis eight years ago and the hundreds of lung illnesses associated with vaping across the country.
Over a month ago, the CDC launched a multi-state investigation. Many of the patients are battling lipoid pneumonia, essentially oil in a patient's lungs, but it isn't the first time doctors have seen cases like these.
Dr. Catherine Markin, a pulmonologist at Legacy Health, and two of her colleagues authored a study in 2012 involving a 42-year-old woman treated in Portland at Good Samaritan Hospital for lipoid pneumonia. It was the first reported case in which doctors hypothesized there may be a link to vaping.
"The only association we could find was the vaping, and she was vaping usual vape juice that had glycerin in it. And so we hypothesized at the time, her hypoxic respiratory failure was associated with vaping," said Markin.
She believes there's been such an overwhelming increase in lung illnesses partly because vaping has become more popular, and also because physicians are recognizing it.
"I think there’s something else. I think there’s truly something different out there because, otherwise, I don’t think we would see this tremendous increase in cases being reported," Markin said.
Officials haven't been able to narrow down any one substance causing these lung disease cases. The FDA says many of the samples they've tested contain significant amounts of Vitamin E acetate.
Markin found glycerin in her case study, which is more commonly used, she says, and comes from vegetable fat. Both are used to thicken the vaping juice.
Even with her research and recent investigation, Markin says they still don't know the longterm effects of vaping.
"I’m actually pretty excited that there’s a lot of attention, and so I’m very hopeful that things are going to happen," she said.
The CDC announced Thursday an updated number of lung disease cases associated with e-cigarette use. 380 people have developed a breathing illness. The number of people who have died remains at six, including one in Oregon. The CDC says it expects those numbers to rise.
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