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Doctors have issued a warning after it was revealed a patient’s rare lung scar may have been caused by smoking.
While the severe lung damage has previously been linked to people working with harmful metals, such as cobalt, this case is believed to be connected to vaping seeing as the patient had no exposure to such environments.
The patient, who has chosen to stay anonymous, was using a type of e-cigarette which had cobalt and lead among other toxic metals being released from the vapour.
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The disease, hard-metal pneumoconiosis, usually occurs from roles such as diamond polishing or tool sharpening, and results in difficulty breathing for patients.
Dr Rupal Shah, from the University of California, explained how exposure to cobalt dust was very rare.
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She said: “This is the first known case of a metal-induced toxicity in the lung that has followed from vaping and it has results in long-term, probably permanent, scarring of the patient’s lungs.
“We think that only a rare subset of people exposed to cobalt will have this reaction, but the problem is that the inflammation caused by hard metal would not be apparent to people using e-cigarettes until the scarring has become irreversible, as it did with this patient.”
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Dr Kirk Jones, also from the University of California, said that people who vape are usually looking for a way to quit smoking.
He said: “As lung physicians, it is our job to be concerned about the substances that are inhaled into the lung, particularly those substances that can bypass our usual defence mechanisms such as these ultra-fine mists.
“We believe it is likely not just that this will happen again, but that it has already happened but not been recognised.
“One of our major reasons for publishing this case history is to inform our colleagues about the possible risks involved with vaping.”
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