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Cleveland Clinic research says vaping THC causes lung damage

A new study on lung injury shows the worst culprit isn’t vaping flavors, its vaping THC.

CLEVELAND — Groundbreaking lung biopsy research focused on vaping is being done right here in Cleveland. 

Dr. Sanjay Mukhopadhyay is excited about his pathology research.

“When we started seeing the same kind of findings in different patients, we got suspicious that we are looking at the same phenomenon” says Dr. Mukhopadhyay.

Dr. Mukhopadhyay tells 3News that his work, along with that of other experts, examined what the lungs of eight male patients who vape THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, looked like under the microscope. 

Credit: Romney Smith, WKYC

What researchers saw was a concentrated area they labeled as acute lung injury.

“We’re seeing these patterns in these biopsies and so it confirms that vaping does actually damage the lung in some patients,” says Dr. Mukhopadhyay.

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But Randy Burch, owner of Euphoria Vapor, says vaping non-THC products can actually help cigarette smokers by reducing their nicotine intake.

“We’re here to educate and for our customers that are looking to transition off of combustible cigarettes, we're here to help them,” says Burch, who tells 3News that Euphoria Vapor does not sell any THC products.

Dr. Mukhopadhyay says a new study on lung injury shows the worst culprit isn’t vaping flavors, but vaping THC.

The study from the CDC examined 86 patients with e-cigarette related lung illnesses in Illinois and Wisconsin this summer. Use of THC was reported by 87% of the patients during the 3 months preceding their illnesses.

"So it just seems to be the more and more we look into this the more it seems THC is the problem," Dr. Mukhopadhyay says.

Might it be better to switch from smoking to vaping? 

"That’s a tricky question that has no clear cut answer. I would say you’re trading one risk for another,” says Dr. Mukhopadhyay

Cleveland Clinic is working on a larger study now involving patients who vape non-THC and THC products.

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