Researchers Say Vitamin E Likely Isn’t the Culprit in Vaping-Related Ailments

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have all but ruled out vitamin E oil and other thickeners as the possible culprit in a wave of vaping-related illnesses and deaths, deepening the mystery of what might be at fault.

Instead, the clinic pathology team reported in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday that the lung tissue they examined suggests the damage was more likely caused by inhaling a caustic chemical fume.

“The damage is essentially akin to a chemical burn,” said surgical pathologist Dr. Brandon Larsen at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz., who led the research team. “It looks like a toxic-fume exposure, like those that occurred in World War I with mustard gas or in an industrial setting with exposure to fumes from a chemical spill.”

In the new study Wednesday, Dr. Larsen and his colleagues examined lung-biopsy tissue from 17 patients at hospitals around the country, all of whom had been diagnosed with vaping-associated lung injuries. Almost three-quarters of them had vaped using cartridges containing marijuana or cannabis oils, the pathologists said. Two of them died.

But the Mayo Clinic’s lung-tissue samples, the first to be examined directly under a microscope, showed no sign of oils. “We have not seen any evidence of that in any of our cases,” Dr. Larsen said.

I attached the article as a PDF in case people can’t get through the paywall.

I always suspected it wasn’t vit E acteate. And now it looks like there is proof it’s not vit E acetate. So many people blaming it before there had any proof to do so. Leafly should be ashamed by blaming vit E acteate before they had any proof.

WSJ report: Researchers Say Vitamin E Likely Isn’t the Culprit in Vaping-Related Ailments - WSJ - Copy.pdf (217.5 KB)

Here’s the full Mayo Clinic report:

Pathology of Vaping-Associated Lung Injury


Thanks for sharing!

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This makes a lot of sense after Oregon reported at least 3 people have gotten sick from carts they bought in legal shops. And there are cases reported in the UK as well as Canada.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports the five victims Oregon officials reported last week all shopped at legal retail marijuana stores. A health authority spokesman did not say if the three new cases did, too.


Please help spread this news for and wide. It’s time for the FUD to stop. We need facts, and people running around screaming about vit E without any proof need to take a seat. Let’s post it everywhere.


Super weird, because in this article, it says six out of six patients had “lipid-laden macrophages” which are immune cells with oils in them.


Lipid-laden macrophages can be caused by things other than inhaling lipids and fats. It’s bad science reporting for people like David Downs at Leafly to claim because they are present, it’s caused by vit E acetate. That just spreads FUD.

For example, the ground breaking research that come out last month found the exact same lipid-laden macrophages and red rings that we’re seeing in this illness, but it was from VG/PG (and not from fat that could be in VG).

Electronic cigarettes disrupt lung lipid homeostasis and innate immunity independent of nicotine

In this report, we used a murine model of chronic inhalation exposure to assess the effect of conventional tobacco smoke and components of ENDS on lung cellular function. Our model enabled a direct comparison between ENDS vapor and conventional smoke to examine their respective contributions to inflammation and lung cellular function. We show that the effect of chronic exposure to ENDS vapor is distinct from tobacco smoke, uniquely altering critical lipid-associated metabolic and immunological processes in the distal airway. Thus, our study findings sound an alarm for the potential harm of ENDS-associated products and could help provide new guidelines regarding their safety.


Hmm that is very interesting. It makes me wonder if maybe bad cartridges/batteries could have something to do with it.


The article sort of contradicts istelf saying:

“In September, the New York State Department of
Health issued subpoenas for companies in
California, Michigan and Massachusetts that sold
vitamin E oil as a thickening agent for vaping
Last month, Dr. Kevin Davidson at WakeMed
Hospital in Raleigh, N.C., and colleagues reported
on five cases of vaping-related illness, all of which
showed traces of the distinctive lipid oils in the
lungs during diagnostic tests. “Finding oil within
the lung is never normal, and it seems to be a
hallmark of this disease,” Dr. Davidson said.”

Same here. Sure seems like it’s cheap chinese carts. There are carts they sell as “with lead” and “without lead”. WTH?

But I don’t want to make the same terrible error made by others and assume it’s the carts without proof. Howeever, this new reserach looking at lung tissue by the Mayo Clinic is pretty compelling.

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This is huge. The Mayo Clinic doesn’t fuck around. They have teams of researchers who are some of the brightest doctors on the planet.

If I ever contract or develops a severe illness, the first place I’m going is the Mayo Clinic…


Myclobutanil ??? Inhaling Hydrogen Cyanide can’t be good

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The NY State Health Dept found vit E oil, they never said they think it’s the cause. And, the FDA reproted that out of 180 tested samples, only lik 39.6% has vit E acetate.

Dr. Kevin Davidson didn’t look at the lung tissue itself. They were basing that claim on their non-invasive testing. Making an educated guess that was wrong it seems.

So far too many docotrs were just guessing at the cause. No real proof.


The amount of HCN produced, even from distillate heavily contaminated with myclo, is soo insignificant. Not anywhere near concentrations to induce notable acute toxicity.


Same here! Mayo or bust!

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I’m not assuming anything just making a hypothesis. Lead is one thing but wouldn’t really meet what we’re seeing here (caustic injury, seemingly random/inconsistent incidence). Maybe there’s some problem, for instance, in the battery leading to some kind of internal corrosion and release of acidic fumes. It wouldn’t occur in every battery, but only in some small subset that have a manufacturing defect. To determine anything about this would require forensics on the vapes themselves and I haven’t seen anything on that thus far.


Ahh that makes sense.


Yup. I’ve done experiments using emergency mining gas detection equipment for HCN and very dirty distillate. Even when dropping 2-3 grams on an 800F nail in an enclosed space(about 1 cubic foot) we would only see peaks of 1-15ppm, I believe your average cigarette is like 75ppm HCN


“The cells were found in samples after performing a procedure called bronchoalveolar lavage where fluid is squirted into a small section of the lungs and then collected for examination.”

Doesn’t sound like an assumption to me.


@davidb Hmm. Makes sense. Also HCN wouldn’t really explain the cases in which e juice was being vaped…
There have been people getting sick from THC carts, box mods, and even juul pods, right??? Not just one kind of vape…
The only thing that is consistent among all of those vapes is hardware from China…


For anybody interested in checking if their disty is hot at home, this worked well for me.

I simply built a plexi-glass enclosure around the detector and inside I rigged a little stand for a cheap titanium nail. Ran a metal coat hanger through a small hole in the roof as a dabber and placed fat dabs on the pre heated nail. Sure there’s a less antiquated way to achieve the same end but it worked well for my purposes.