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(CNN) - Vitamin E acetate, an additive that is sometimes used in THC and other vaping products, could be responsible for the outbreak of lung lesions nationwide related to the use of electronic cigarettes and that are linked to dozens of deaths, according to officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC, said she would characterize this finding with a breakthrough in the agency's research, although more evidence is still needed.
LOOK: More than 2,000 cases of lung injury related to vaping in the US, the CDC says
"These findings are significant," the official said during a press conference this Friday. "We have a strong culprit," he added.
However, there is still work to be done and the CDC said they will continue to analyze a wide range of chemicals.
"This does not rule out that there are other possible substances," Schuchat said. "There may be more than one cause."
The CDC explained that their tests found vitamin E acetate in samples from 29 patients who suffered from vaping-related diseases in 10 states. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the primary psychoactive component of the cannabis plant, or its metabolites, was detected in 23 of 28 patients. Nicotine metabolites were also found in 16 of 26 patient samples.
During the press conference, Dr. James Pirkle of the CDC described vitamin E acetate as "enormously sticky" when it enters the lungs. Pirkle said it would not be unusual for THC to be absent in some of the samples because it leaves the lungs faster. He added that finding THC in 82% of the samples of 28 patients is "prominent."
READ: Camouflaged vaping devices baffle parents and schools
Last September, New York health authorities linked cases of severe lung disease with vitamin E acetate in vaping products containing cannabis. At that time, experts said it was "a key focus" in the state's investigation into the condition.
“The CDC reports support what the Wadsworth Center Lab in New York State has found in the vaping products tested since early September and reinforces the importance of the role that vitamin E acetate can play in the current disease outbreak. related to vaping use, ”said Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York, in a statement Friday. "Since no definitive cause has been found, I have said it from the beginning: if you do not know what you are smoking, do not smoke it."
Until the investigation is over, the CDC suggests that people refrain from using all vaping products with THC, no matter where they buy them. The research has found that many of the products that patients consumed were purchased online or received through friends or family, instead of vaping stores or licensed THC dispensaries.
Vitamin E is used in several products, such as lotions and supplements, but the CDC clarified that there is a "big difference" in putting vitamin E on the skin or taking it in pills and inhaling the oily vitamin.
LOOK: 805 cases in 46 states of lung lesions related to vaping in the US
Dr. Jennifer Layden, medical director and state epidemiologist at the Illinois Department of Public Health, said at the press conference that in her state, they found that in most cases sick people consumed THC and that their materials came from “informal sources. " In Illinois, he said, they did not register any cases associated with the state's medical marijuana program.
Until November 5, 2,051 cases of diseases associated with vaping were reported in all states, except Alaska. The states have reported at least 40 deaths.
CDC Deaths vaping