Has new trend ‘JUULing’ caused cancer in minors?
No, experts say it takes years for cancer to develop, it's not immediate effect.
Jonathan Winickoff, MD, MPH, FAAP, JUUL, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Lung Association
It’s one of the latest trend in e-cigarette vaporizers called JUUL (jewel) and its clever disguise is making it super popular.
But there's been social media buzz claiming JUULING has resulted in several young people getting cancer. Are the claims legit? We verify.
We first went to the company themselves, JUUL. They put out a statement on Reddit calling the social media claim unsubstantiated and reckless.
Then we took a closer look at the tweets. There aren't any links to the CDC or studies about kids diagnosed with cancer after ‘JUULing’.
So we reached out to Dr. Jonathan Winickoff, practicing pediatrician and professor at Harvard Medical School and MassGeneral Hospital for Children as well as a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Tobacco Consortium. He said nicotine is actually the real concern with JUUL and minors.
“Kids think that they're getting a harmless vapor into their lungs, some of them think they're getting a low level of nicotine, it turns out you're getting a high level of nicotine product...a single cartridge has enough nicotine to equal an entire package of cigarettes."
And according to a 2016 Surgeon General’s Report released by the CDC, youth use of nicotine, including e-cigarettes, can cause addiction and harm to a growing adolescent brain, but no reports of cancer being an immediate effect.
Doctor Winickoff said this is because it can take years for cancer to develop. However, currently because of carcinogens this will mean future cancers but the more immediate effects such as bronchiolitis and wheezing are showing up right now.
"Inhaling these compounds is not safe, it can cause popcorn lung and put you at risk for future tobacco use", Winickoff said.
The brand has responded to people's concerns on Facebook about JUUL and minors. They do have a self-imposed age restriction of 21 and older for their products and recently partnered with a verification service that will use a public records search reporting back the purchaser's age.
So no, minors are not being diagnosed with cancer resulting from JUUL. Dr. Winickoff recommends parent know the proper lingo can help minors are using to stay on the up and up.
“JUUL is a verb, to JUUL. JUUL pods, kids may also say that they drip or use mods. These are the terms that you want to use if you want to engage with kids and understand what they're saying. Kids can buy it on their prepaid card and they can get large quantities, kids are trading these JUUL devices in school and kids who are addicted are actually supporting their own habit by dealing JUUL to other kids.”
The doctor urges parents can act if they discover JUUL is happening in their child’s school. “The other thing I want parents to do is check with their school’s policy, make sure that the school has a policy, a zero-tolerance policy and one that is enforceable.”
On March 27, the American Lung Association announced seven public health and medical groups filed suit that challenges the FDA’s decision that allows electronic cigarettes and cigars, appeal to kids, to stay on the market for years without being reviewed by the agency.