I thought journalism was about research and telling the truth. I’m perhaps too naïve in times of fake news and social media. However, I still believe in information, facts and research.
I get many news in my inbox, and Google Alerts diligently notifies me whenever there are new results that matches my interests. Since September 2019, I don’t get any other news about vaping than health related ones. From a pure medical perspective, it is very interesting that in 20 years we haven’t got news about vaping and lungs and all of a sudden, we get hundreds and hundreds of news about vaping and health issues.
From all the news in my inbox, there is one that really caught my attention. The journalist managed to write 1654 words, 9808 characters of non-sense and misleading information. I previously said that we are in times of fake news and social media, but I forgot to mention that journalism, nowadays, it’s more about copy and paste than anything else. As a matter of fact, that’s the point, creating content every 5 minutes, get better search engine results and more views. The content? It doesn’t really matter.
This article was written in the New York Times and says: “He Tried E-Cigarettes to Quit Smoking. Doctors Say Vaping Led to His Death”.
Vaping and Health Issues: News Reports
However, if we read the whole article, we cannot draw the conclusion that vaping led to his death. Then, why did the writer of the article choose such a misleading headline?
This news report talks about a man who was 68 years old and died from respiratory failure and pulmonary disease after years of heavy smoking. Moreover, the years prior to his death, he was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation (irregular and rapid heartbeat) and non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Furthermore, after years of heavy smoking, he was also diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In other words, we are talking about a man that was seriously ill and consequently, he had a very weak immune system.
As matter of fact, the combination of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is lethal. It is not even responsible to mention vaping as the cause of his death. Do the health authorities count this case as a vaping death? If so, this is a medical malpractice. For instance, when someone is HIV positive and has developed full-blown AIDS, the cause of the death could be pneumonia or many other health conditions. A person who suffers from immune deficiency cannot efficiently manage and fight against diseases that in normal conditions are perfectly manageable. For example, the great singer-songwriter Freddie Mercury died of bronchopneumonia as a complication of AIDS.
Vaping or Tobacco Smoking?
Obviously, this man’s condition worsened over time. Last April he went to the doctor because he was coughing constantly (A man with obstructive pulmonary disease). The conclusion: he had pneumonia.
Suddenly, someone’s light bulb goes on: Our protagonist of this story switched from tobacco smoking to vaping. Hence, vaping is to blame!
According to the news, the State was investigating if vaping was the cause of his death.
Let’s remind that we are talking about a man that had pneumonia, heart and pulmonary diseases after years of heavy smoking!
The news goes on with some questions asked by a doctor: did he vape THC? Did he have a cough? Obviously, a man who suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease suffers from long-term cough…Consequently, the news is misleading as he was already experiencing the symptoms of this serious lung condition caused by his long-term smoking habit.
Causes: Heavy Smoking and COPD
The nonsense goes on as the official cause of death was “acute respiratory failure” caused by his chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Moreover, there is no official autopsy! In other words, someone comes up with a hypothesis and suddenly, that hypothesis becomes the official cause of his death!
The story goes on, as apparently, Nebraska has identified the first death related to vaping and, voilà! Our protagonist was this first official vaping-related death.
The question here is: How can any health authority or State government say that this case is a vaping-related death if they didn’t perform an autopsy on the body? Furthermore, we are talking about a man that was seriously ill with a weak immune system caused by Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and COPD. In other words, he didn’t have that much time left.
The conclusion is simple, this is not a vaping-related illness and with no autopsy and other forensic and medical tests we can just conclude that this man died from COPD and Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The article goes on even further and states that “public health authorities believe there are more cases like this one but that they weren’t considered as vaping-related illnesses by doctors”.
Vaping and Health Issues: conclusion
Furthermore, the article claims that this person only vaped nicotine. But, if there is no autopsy or blood analysis, why are they so sure that he didn’t vape any black-market THC e-liquid? Moreover, many people do not report if they had vaped illegal THC products. Could it be that this person was vaping THC to deal with the struggles caused by of his lymphoma? I don’t know, but it is a plausible hypothesis with more evidences than relating this death with vaping.
The only conclusion based of scientific facts is that this man developed COPD because of years of smoking. Other conclusions are just based on mere speculations.