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Cannabis as a Probable Cause of Lung Illnesses Essay

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Updated: Jul 4th, 2021

Introduction

With the increase in the popularity of vaping, options including recreational drugs have become available. However, there are reasons to believe that the consumption of cannabis-containing vaping products leads to the development of lung diseases (“Vaping Illnesses May Be Linked to Illegal Marijuana Products”). Despite being politicized at their core due to being affiliated with either left-, right-wing, or centrist ideas, each of the articles under analysis includes unique biases, which leave room for potential improvements and further studies.

Main body

The focus on personal experiences and the attempt at engaging the reader into the lives of people that have suffered from cannabis-containing vaping products may seem as sensible as the means of increasing emotional investment. However, as the left-wing article written by Ferguson et al. shows, the described method reduces the levels of objectivity in the research, robbing it of its credibility (2). The issue of biases in the articles used for the analysis deserves a substantially greater focus since the presence of said biases may affect the efficacy of applying study results to solving lung-illness-related concerns.

Although the articles used for this research provide sensible arguing points, each of them incorporates a certain amount of biases, which reduces its value as a support for the general debate concerning the harm of cannabis vaping products. For example, the problem of a design bias becomes evident once considering the statements that each of the authors makes to support their thesis. Specifically, the paper by Ferguson et al. does not provide any background information on the cases sampled to prove the harmful effect of vaping; instead, the author simply states the number of vapers who died from lung cancer and those that developed severe health complications.

Ferguson et al. state that “some 12 people have died from mysterious lung illnesses linked to vape pens, and 805 others have been hospitalized in 46 states, according to federal health officials” (Ferguson et al.). Thus, the lack of any context on the people selected from the sample indicates that there may have been comorbid issues that could have affected the development of respiratory issues and the eventual emergence of lung cancer. As a result, the article by Ferguson incorporates a crucial design bias that may have affected the trustworthiness of the source.

The right-wing article written by Bartiromo, in turn, references the official statement of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which could make its statement reputable. However, the failure to create a strong logical connection between the presence of THC in vaping devices and the associated health issues causes the immediate disconnection from the article’s main argument. Specifically, the article never states explicitly that the presence of THC components in vaping devices causes harm to their consumers, hence the logical bias (Bartiromo 1).

During my research, the article by Brianna Abbott suggested, “hundreds of vapers are getting sick and six have died, but doctors are struggling to isolate the nature of the mysterious lung ailments.” As the patients showed patterns of chest pain, shortness of breath, and coughing, and others experiencing gastrointestinal issues, fatigue, fever, and weight loss that quickly progresses to organizing pneumonia (Abbott 1). To date, only a few reports of vaping-associated lung injury have included pulmonary illnesses findings, and even fewer included illustrations thereof.

The Department of Health Services cases corroborate many of these descriptions and provide some preliminary insight into the pathogenesis of this problem. Much attention has been given recently to the possibility that this may represent infection or pneumonia (1). The article by Aubrey is also worth mentioning as one of the examples of how biases may affect the perception and further interpretation of facts. Although the article in question does not specifically address the effects that vaping has on the probability of developing lung cancer, it still focuses on the health issues arising from vaping. The article features an interview between the show host and Allison Aubrey (Aubrey).

Although the article features an insightful talking point about the vaping culture and the threat of vaping as a fad, the inherent bias baked into the premise of Aubrey’s article affects the trustworthiness of the data to a considerable extent. By specifying that there is a link between the two concerns, the author manages to introduce balance into the discussion (Aubrey 2). Thus, although also being inclined toward addressing the harmful effects of cannabis-containing vaping products, the paper by Aubrey represents the most balanced argument.

For example, the fact that one of the participants repeatedly refuses to consider the opposing arguments and seems to focus solely on the information that supports their opinion of the harmlessness of vaping can be seen as a clear example of a biased approach. Defined as the controversy arising from the fact that in most interviews, the answers are skewed toward the interviewer’s perspective, the specified problem shines through in Aubrey’s article (Aubrey).

For instance, the host repeatedly refers to the increasing popularity of vaping as the main source of the problem, representing the rise in it as an inherently positive fact: “They’re labeled, dank – D-A-N-K – vapes. The packaging indicates that they contain 90% THC” (Aubrey). Thus, the responses to the interview questions seem to contain implicit biases defined by the participant’s unwillingness to focus on the problematic aspects of vaping.

It is blatantly obvious from the interview that Aubrey is desperately trying to keep the discussion objective by steering the conversation into analyzing the extent to which the problem has been researched: “But Martin says what’s really inside is not known yet. They’ve sent samples out to the state’s forensic lab for testing. From the outside, the products look legit” (Aubrey). However, the host continuously ignores these attempts, which amplifies the number of biases and their impact on the trustworthiness of the analysis: “Dank vapes sounds like a really cool name. It sounds like it would be a real product. And it looks like legitimate packaging” (Aubrey).

What can be observed in the discussion of the effects of vaping by Aubrey and Martin can be referred to as the opposite of the interviewer bias. While the latter implies that the interviewer has the power and capacity of steering the conversation in a desirable way and, thus, reduce the participant’s ability to discuss different aspects of the issues under analysis, in the case in point, the interviewee is the one that avoids discussing the product objectively. Instead, appealing to the young audience with the help of a culture-specific vocabulary and using the term “dank,” Mike Martin adds biases to his argument, causing the interview to look very one-sided. As a result, the interview as a source of information loses a significant amount of its credibility and usability as a potential source of information for further research.

I have found that The Food and Drug Administration found samples that included some of the marijuana products that recently sickened users across the country contained the same chemical: vitamin E acetate. It’s harmless when used as a supplement or skin ointment but apparently is not safe for inhaling while vaping and some have contained tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. The FDA is urging the public to be vigilant about any vaping products that young adults and teenagers may be using that the Trump administration plans on banning non-tobacco flavored vaping products as health officials continue to investigate the illnesses. (Abbott 2).

The issue of reporting biases is another reason for concern that needs closer attention as the possible source of biases in the information presented by the Department of Health Services. Specifically, the paper by Abbott features several instances of reporting biases caused by the selection of studies mentioned in the article. Since very few papers strive to prove the null hypothesis true, the propensity toward viewing vaping tools as inherently negative factors causing people’s health to suffer is very high. Indeed, all of the studies mentioned by Abbott as evidence seem to be geared toward proving the fact that vaping is extremely harmful to people and is likely to cause lung cancer (Abbott). For example, the author addresses the evidence provided by a physician: “If they’re extremely sick, they’re admitted.

And if it’s obvious it’s not an infection by blood work or cultures, we are putting them on steroids” (Abbott). The described type of evidence is supported by several other statements, yet none of the arguments considered by the author in the article indicates that there are any sources outlining the absence of negative effects observed in vaping patients. Therefore, it could be concluded that there is a bias of reporting in the article by Abbot. The same can be said about other sources since there is a noticeable lack of research devoted to proving the absence of harmful effects caused by cannabis-containing vaping products.

None of the Department of Health Services cases showed histologic evidence of pneumonia or infection since antibiotics haven’t been working and the illness has gotten progressive even the patients have been hospitalized. The article calls into question the diagnostic utility of identifying not an infection by blood work patients are put on steroids. The significance of this observation remains unclear, particularly in patients with a known vaping history, and until more data accumulates, Center of Disease and Control and Prevention’s data suggests that this finding should be interpreted with caution, as it may simply represent a marker of exposure and not necessarily a marker of toxicity but some needed to be put on a ventilator to help the patient breath (Abbott 3).

While it is difficult to discount the potential role of lipid, to the CDC, the histologic changes instead suggest that vaping-associated lung injury represents a form of airway-centered chemical pneumonitis from one or more inhaled toxic substances rather than exogenous lipoid pneumonia per se, but the agents responsible remain unknown (Abbott 3).

Most deaths and illnesses don’t seem to be coming from the legal sales of vaping and e-cigarettes. On the black market, there is no quality control, which means that pesticides and cutting agents could be present in any given Dank Vape cartridge or any other black-market cartridge, for that matter. And even for legal vape products, there’s still a huge lack of information on what types of flavoring agents are safe to add to vape cartridges. If they continue to close legal vaping stores, then we’ll see more black markets growing. (Kittredge 1)

Despite accumulating data on the clinical and imaging features of vaping-associated lung injury, its pathology is poorly understood. Health officials reviewed cartridges used by 57 (66%) of patients. All of whom vaped (77% with marijuana or cannabis oils or THC) and 16% used nicotine only products, health officials are not sure if linked by using THC products (Sandler 2).

When the first death from a lung ailment got out, the Public Health Director announced, “the severity of illness people are experiencing is alarming and we must get the word out that using e-cigarettes and vaping can be dangerous.” The Food and Drug Administration has criticized the tobacco companies for their marketing strategies of an alternative to quitting smoking (Edney 2). Doctors are searching for answers and turning to some previous cases for help as the illness went undetected until vaping got popular.

Specialists have treated several patients over the past couple of weeks who developed pulmonary illnesses after vaping, and the CDC thinks there may be more (2). Emily Chapman, chief medical officer of Children’s Minnesota said, “the possibility of what can go into these cartridges is almost limitless, and that in and of itself creates a lot of variation in what we are seeing in a body’s reaction to vaping” (E2).

What is still unclear, whether any of the cases resulted from product tampering, brand, ingredients, or usage. E-cigarettes have been available to consumers for more than 10 years, but people have become seriously ill within only the past few months. The health officials investigating the severe illnesses across the U.S. are finding “black market products,” not ones a consumer would find for sale at a vape shop (Anzel 1).

The author, Rebecca Anzel of, “State officials seek answers to vaping-related illnesses Vaping” wrote, “a group of health advocates — the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, and Respiratory Health Association — said in a statement that barring the sale of flavored tobacco products will “ensure our kids are protected from tobacco’s deadly toll.” Health officials say that the rush to ban vaping products could harm public health by making e-cigarettes less accessible than cigarettes, which experts agree are more dangerous.

According to the Public Health officials they’re taking urgent steps to identify what is causing previously healthy vape users to develop pneumonia-like symptoms. But the results are still inconclusive. The CDC reported that the investigation is ongoing and involves several federal agencies and state health departments. According to a report published in 86 cases in Wisconsin and Illinois, investigators found that of the THC-products used by patients, nearly all were prepacked, pre-filled cartridges acquired from informal sources like friends and illicit dealers (Anzel 2).

Moreover, each of the articles discussed above contains a certain number of procedural biases. The concept of procedural biases suggests that the pressure put on respondents, especially in regard to the time that it takes to perform an interview, affects the results of the analysis and the overall veracity of its results. Indeed, as shown in the interview with Aubrey, the amount of time allotted per response was quite small, with the participant having rather slim chances of providing a coherent and fully developed answer to the question.

Due to the challenges of giving a succinct and accurate answer to a complicated question within a short amount of time, the responses provided by the interviewee may have failed to describe the effects that vaping has on people’s healthfully. What seems to be the responses that are purely designed to describe the benefits of vaping may have been the direct effect of the time constraints that the interviewee experienced when answering the questions.

Nonetheless, applying the specified bias to the analysis performed in the article by Abbott would mean making a rather substantial assumption. Since there are no time limitations mentioned by either of the participants, one may claim that the sole purpose of the answers provided by Martin was to showcase the outstanding characteristics of vaping and conceal the facts that might hurt the sales to a considerable degree. Therefore, when performing the analysis of the data provided by Abbott, it is necessary to take the information offered by the interviewer at face value.

Conclusion

While it would be wrong to deny that all of the articles used for the analysis of the problem in question contain inherent biases, discarding the evidence that they present would also be a mistake. Moreover, the very fact that the articles mentioned above contain biased information shows that the argument requires further study and, therefore, needs additional research to explore the problematic sides of vaping. Thus, the existence of biases in the studies mentioned above encourages the following research and adds focus to it.

In addition, getting completely rid of biases, especially in the articles that involve a large amount of information retrieved from personal interviews and other slightly unreliable sources, is barely possible. While the described characteristic of articles written based on interviews and reviews of literature does not dismiss the points that they make, it still shows that complementary analysis is needed to support the statements that authors make.

Works Cited

Aubrey, Allison. .” NPR. 2019. Web.

Abbott, Brianna. “Vaping Illnesses Puzzle Doctors – WSJ.” Dow Jones Institutional. 2019. ProQuest. Web.

Anzel, Rebecca. Capitol, News I. “State Officials Seek Answers to Vaping-Related Illnesses Vaping:” Daily Herald, 2019, pp. 1. ProQuest. Web.

Bartiromo, Michael. ” Fox News. 2019. Web.

Edney, Anna, and Michelle Fay Cortez. “First Death From Lung Ailment Heightens Alarm Over Vaping.” Bloomberg.Com. 2019, p. N.PAG. EBSCOhost. Web.

Ferguson, Conor, et al. .” NBC News. 2019. Web.

Kittredge, Brett. “Vaping Illnesses Coming from Black-Market Products.” CE Think Tank Newswire, 2019. ProQuest. Web.

Sandler, Rachel. “‘Dank Vapes’ Among Black Market Brands Linked To Vaping Illnesses, Officials Say.” Forbes.Com. 2019, p. N.PAG. EBSCOhost. Web.

” Allsides.com. 2019. Web.

Williams, Joseph P. “Vaping: From ‘Safer Than Cigarettes’ to Public Health Crisis.” U.S. News – The Civic Report. 2019, pp. C12–C16. EBSCOhost. Web.

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IvyPanda. (2021, July 4). Cannabis as a Probable Cause of Lung Illnesses. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/cannabis-as-a-probable-cause-of-lung-illnesses/

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"Cannabis as a Probable Cause of Lung Illnesses." IvyPanda, 4 July 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/cannabis-as-a-probable-cause-of-lung-illnesses/.

1. IvyPanda. "Cannabis as a Probable Cause of Lung Illnesses." July 4, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/cannabis-as-a-probable-cause-of-lung-illnesses/.


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IvyPanda. 2021. "Cannabis as a Probable Cause of Lung Illnesses." July 4, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/cannabis-as-a-probable-cause-of-lung-illnesses/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Cannabis as a Probable Cause of Lung Illnesses'. 4 July.

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