Health: Popcorn disease is a new way to injure the lungs

Health: Popcorn disease is a new way to injure the lungs

“What’s your secret for good health and longevity?” I have been asked repeatedly on radio, TV, and in interviews. My reply is simple. “You must learn early in life to practice a sound lifestyle and continue it forever.” This should be easy. Yet we are not learning from history.

The Canadian Medical Association Journal has reported the case of a 17-year-old boy, who has been seriously injured from smoking e-cigarettes.

Several cases of lung injury have been reported recently in North America. But this particular patient should get more headlines than others due to its unique cause. The CMAJ reports that the vaping injury was similar to, “Popcorn Lung”. This is a condition seen in workers exposed to the chemical flavouring, diacetyl, an ingredient used in microwave popcorn.

It appears that the problem is not the consumption of popcorn. But, if it’s inhaled, the chemical results in “bronchiolitis” which causes inflammation and obstruction of the small airways of the lungs. This is not a minor problem and is life-threatening.

Doctors were told the teenager had suffered from intractable coughing for a week. And that he had smoked a variety of flavoured cartridges along with THC marijuana that causes a high. By the time he was seen in hospital it was obvious he was critically ill, needed life-support, and was referred to a lung transplant centre.

Fortunately, this teenager narrowly escaped a double lung transplant. But he has been left with chronic lung damage at this early age. For the moment he is no longer smoking e-cigarettes, cannabis and tobacco. But it’s been a lesson learned too late.

The CMAJ states that, according to a 2017 report, e-cigarettes are the most commonly used nicotine product among Canadian youth. It boggles the mind that 272,000 children aged 15 to 24 are using e-cigarettes.

Dr. Matthew Stanbrook, Deputy Editor of the CMAJ, urges the government to ban these harmful substances, and to ignore fearmongering from the tobacco industry that people will revert to smoking cigarettes. Amen to that message.

I wrote years ago that it’s safer to perform mouth to mouth resuscitation on Dracula than to light up a cigarette. The hazards are so overwhelming and the facts have not changed. Today, 90 per cent of lung cancer deaths, 80 per cent of chronic bronchitis and emphysema and 25 per cent of heart disease and stroke are due to inhaling tobacco.

A medical professor once started his lecture by saying, “This talk has been given before, but must be given again, because the first time no one listened.”

The point that health authorities must voice repeatedly is that cigarette smoking is now the most preventable cause of death worldwide. Several years ago I interviewed professor Richard Peto of Oxford University. His large study showed that those who started smoking at an early age lost on average twenty years of life. This is a huge price to pay.

Sir Walter Raleigh, a great favourite of Queen Elizabeth I, was acclaimed for introducing tobacco into England. Rather than celebrating the discovery, she would have been wise to see it a dangerous threat and hang him from the yardarm. Today’s health authorities, knowing the facts, should not stand by complacently.

Some diseases kill quickly and everyone takes notice. But lung cancer and other chronic lung diseases may take years to end lives. This makes it a hard sell to convince people to change bad habits.

Since teenagers believe they’re going to live forever, getting them to avoid hazards is a much harder sell. Maybe parents could paste this column on the refrigerator door. Young people just might read it and decide to save their lives.

Dr. W. Gifford-Jones can be reached at info@docgiff.com.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS                                A man exhales while smoking an e-cigarette in Portland, Maine. Smoking e-cigarettes is leading to cases similar to “Popcorn Lung,” a condition seen in workers exposed to microwave popcorn chemical flavouring diacetyl.

Photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS A man exhales while smoking an e-cigarette in Portland, Maine. Smoking e-cigarettes is leading to cases similar to “Popcorn Lung,” a condition seen in workers exposed to microwave popcorn chemical flavouring diacetyl.

Just Posted

Canadian drivers may not be as courteous as they thing, says a new survey.
Black Press file photo
83% of Alberta drivers admit to speeding: survey

97% of drivers admit to aggressive or road rage-like behaviour

Council approved a $3 million grant and a $19 million loan Tuesday to help keep Westerner Park sustainable. (Advocate file photo)
Red Deer city council approves $22M to keep Westerner Park viable after emotional debate

It’s vital ensure future success for the huge economic generator, says mayor

Red Deer Rebels goalie Chase Coward tries to find a loose puck during WHL action at the Centrium earlier this season. (Photo by ROB WALLATOR/Red Deer Rebels)
Changes on the horizon for Red Deer Rebels next season

New coach, roster adjustments among top priorities for Sutter this offseason

Renovations and construction have begun at Red Deer Dream Centre. (Photo contributed)
Renovations underway at Red Deer Dream Centre

Christian-based addictions treatment centre

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Here is a list of latest COVID-19 restrictions in effect in Alberta

New mandatory health restrictions are now in effect in Alberta. Additional restrictions… Continue reading

An Empire Day/Victoria Day gathering of school children on Ross Street by the Cenotaph in the 1920s. On the right hand side, are members of the Red Deer Citizens Band (forerunner of the Red Deer Royals). (Photo via Red Deer Archives)
Victoria Day event helped after war

One hundred years ago, on May 24, 1921, a major community event… Continue reading

Gwynne Dyer
Gwynne Dyer: Independence is a one-way gate

Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland declared in 2014 that the referendum… Continue reading

Boston Bruins left wing Nick Ritchie (21) and Washington Capitals defenseman Brenden Dillon (4) battle for the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, May 11, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Raffl’s late goal pushes Capitals past Bruins, 2-1

Raffl’s late goal pushes Capitals past Bruins, 2-1

Chicago Blackhawks left wing Alex DeBrincat (12) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Florida Panthers in Chicago, Saturday, May 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Toews’ question chases Chicago Blackhawks into offseason

Toews’ question chases Chicago Blackhawks into offseason

Wheeler has two goals, two assists as Winnipeg Jets clinch third in North Division

Wheeler has two goals, two assists as Winnipeg Jets clinch third in North Division

Depleted Raptors drop a 115-96 decision to Leonard and Clippers

Depleted Raptors drop a 115-96 decision to Leonard and Clippers

Denis Shapovalov, of Canada, tosses the ball for a serve to Ilya Ivashka, of Belarus, during the Miami Open tennis tournament Saturday, March 27, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Fla. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Wilfredo Lee
Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime upsets Diego Schwartzman at Italian Open

Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime upsets Diego Schwartzman at Italian Open

Philadelphia Flyers' James van Riemsdyk (25) and Sean Couturier (14) celebrate past New Jersey Devils' Yegor Sharangovich (17) after a goal by van Riemsdyk during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, May 10, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Flyers drop from trendy East favorite to another lost season

Flyers drop from trendy East favorite to another lost season

Most Read