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Posted on July 17, 2015
Recently, a story appeared on Facebook claiming that a 67-year old woman died from complications of using electronic cigarettes. A woman posted on her status update claiming that her neighbour died from using electronic cigarettes that had coated the follicles of her lungs with oil. She said that after attending the funeral of her neighbour, she was compelled to warn others against electronic cigarette use.
When a special body known as Snopes investigated the claim, there wasn’t a trustworthy or factual source to validate this story. In her status, the woman did not offer any information about when her neighbour died or whether the deceased had other health conditions. However, she mentions that her neighbour was treated at Mayo hospital and the doctors said her lungs were clear except the oil coating.
It is possible that this woman might have suffered from lipoid pneumonia, a dangerous condition that cannot be associated with electronic cigarettes. This condition is normally found in ageing patients with a history of tropical application or other medical problems or consumption of lipids.
Previously, we have had one confirmed case of a lipid pneumonia death in an electronic cigarette user. However, this case was surrounded by lots of controversy about whether the electronic cigarette was an easy target to blame or the real culprit. Another case involved a UK man whose widow claimed he died from lipoid pneumonia after using electronic cigarettes. This is a statement that does not follow common sense and is therefore unacceptable.
Moreover, the Facebook poster did not share what kind of electronic cigarette her neighbour used, whether she was also smoking tobacco cigarettes or how long she had been using electronic cigarettes. She also did not reference whether she used e-liquids or other oils. In addition, she failed to indicate on her post if her neighbour was exposed to fumigation chemicals, which is the major cause of lipoid pneumonia.
To get to the bottom of this Facebook post, Snopes reached out to Mayo Clinic, but received no response. To date, there is no valid report that can verify that the claim of the Facebook user is true. In other words, don't believe everything you read in social media: always check for the facts to ensure that the information you read is unbiased and backed by scientific evidence.