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Latest research on vaping injuries

There’s a little more clarity now for doctors trying to diagnose lung injuries caused by vaping. Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center are sharing tools to help doctors pinpoint what’s causing those injuries.

Daniel Croft at URMC says there’s still a lot that doctors don’t know about how vaping injuries are happening.

“Having a guide to go through this new illness is important because there – we are still trying to learn – learn exactly what’s causing it," Croft said.

Croft is the senior author on a study published in the Lancet Respiratory Medicine that lays out a flowchart for doctors trying to diagnose and treat those injuries. He says the federal Centers for Disease Control is finding a strong link between those injuries and a chemical in vaping liquids called “Vitamin E acetate”… but it’s still not clear how that chemical is causing injuries, or whether it’s the only one responsible for them.

The CDC says Vitamin E acetate is most often found in illicit vape products.

Croft says diagnosing the injuries accurately is really important. "We have the entire country working very hard to try to figure this out," Croft said.

"This is something that we absolutely need to get to the bottom of, and that’s where health care centers all over the country can help this effort by sending samples, collecting information on the illnesses."

For now, Croft, the New York state health department, and the CDC all say the healthy choice is to stop vaping… or not start it in the first place.

"One key part of this is that this is a preventable – a preventable source of injury," Croft said. "And the easiest way to prevent vaping associated lung injury really would be to not vape."

Doctors recommend many of the same strategies for quitting vapes as they do for traditional cigarettes.

This report came to us courtesy of our public radio partners at WXXI in Rochester.

Brett is the health reporter and a producer at WXXI News. He has a master’s degree from the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism and before landing at WXXI, he was an intern at WNYC and with Ian Urbina of the New York Times. He also produced freelance reporting work focused on health and science in New York City. Brett grew up in Bremerton, Washington, and holds a bachelor’s degree from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon.