Three cases of lung disease associated with electronic cigarettes were confirmed in Brazil, even with the ban on the product in the country

While 52 deaths and 2,500 hospitalizations associated with the product have been recorded in the United States, recent data from the Brazilian Society of Pulmonology and Phthisiology (SBPT) drew attention to the impact of e-cigarettes here in the country.

According to the organization, three cases of lung diseases caused by electronic cigarettes were recently registered in Brazil – and all victims confirmed the use of vaping with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in the last three months.

Even with the use and sale prohibited nationwide, users revealed that they purchased the devices in the US. There, e-cigarettes are sold as a “safe” health product, but its long-term effects can be more dangerous than it sounds.

Electronic cigarettes are battery-operated smoking devices and contain toxic substances such as nicotine additives (which are chemically addictive).

Brazil records three cases of lung disease associated with electronic cigarettes - Photo: Shutterstock

The liquid nicotine in e-cigarettes is mixed with oils and solvents until dissolved. This solution is then heated by the product’s battery, releasing the vapour that is sucked in by the smoker.

US authorities suspect that the chemical component “vitamin E acetate” may be the major villain causing lung diseases associated with electronic cigarettes.

This substance is used to thicken the mixture with liquids that have TCH. However, further studies are needed to confirm this initial hypothesis.

Electronic Cigarettes in Brazil

In Brazil, electronic cigarettes are identified as DEFs (electronic smoking devices) and are banned by Anvisa (National Health Surveillance Agency). The ban is due to the lack of evidence on the safety of using the product.

In September of this year, the publicist Pedro Ivo Brito, 29, was hospitalized with chest paincough and difficulty breathing in São Paulo. The young man was diagnosed with Evali, a lung disease linked to the use of electronic cigarettes, and had to undergo surgery due to a spillage of fluid in the membrane of the lung.

What is Evali

The lung disease linked to the use of electronic cigarettes received an official name in 2019: Evali. The title is actually an abbreviation in English for “lung damage associated with the use of products such as electronic cigarettes or vaping”, created by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Most patients with Evali only identified the signs when the disease was already in serious condition. The symptoms are very similar to flu and respiratory infections, such as:

  • difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Cough
  • Abdominal pain
  • shiver
  • Weight loss


As the identification of Evil is still recent, research is being done to find out which is the most suitable treatment for patients. However, doctors generally recommend stopping the use of electronic cigarettes immediately.

Other measures should be taken, especially depending on the difficulty of breathing, according to the SBPT:

  • Patients with suspected Evali: follow-up with antiviral and/or antimicrobial drugs, with constant reassessment every 24 to 48 hours
  • Patients with suspected Evali and shortness of breath: hospitalization, oxygen supply and medication

Effects of electronic cigarette

In addition to Evil, inhaled substances can cause serious respiratory problems for e-cigarette users. Among the diseases are:

  • Pneumonia
  • Asthma
  • Pulmonary infection
  • Heart diseases
  • Cancer

Apart from these health conditions, the National Cancer Institute (Inca) released an alert about explosions caused by electronic devices. Due to the battery, fires, burns, loss of body parts and even death are being related to the use of e-cigarettes.

Electronic Cigarette vs Traditional Cigarette

A recent study published in the journal American Journal of Preventive Medicine indicated that e-cigarette users are 30% more likely to develop chronic lung diseases (such as asthma, bronchitis and emphysema ) compared to people who do not use the product.

The research had more than 32,000 volunteers and participants had no lung disease in 2013. However, after three years of using vaporizers such as e-cigarettes, they returned for new analysis and it was found the emergence of diseases.

The analysis innovates by concluding that electronic cigarettes, previously considered less harmful to health, can have complications similar to those of common cigarettes.

long term risks

The survey also found that regular cigarette smokers have twice the risk of developing lung disease in three years than nonsmokers. However, the danger triples when smokers use traditional cigarettes and electronic cigarettes.

It is also noteworthy that adults who smoke electronic cigarettes are four times more likely to use traditional cigarettes when compared to non-smokers.