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Sept 9 (Reuters) - The American Medical Association (AMA) on Monday urged people to avoid the use of e-cigarette products until health officials could further investigate and understand the cause of lung illnesses across the country.
"In light of increasing reports of e-cigarette-associated lung illnesses across the country, the AMA urges the public to avoid the use of e-cigarette products ...," AMA President Patrice Harris said in a statement.
At least five people in the United States have died from a lung illness possibly tied to vaping. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is probing 450 cases of lung illness that may have been caused by e-cigarette use around the country.
Staff from health agencies, including the FDA, said they have not linked the illnesses to any specific e-cigarette product or any particular substance in e-cigarettes.
The CDC said on Friday that no evidence of infectious diseases has been identified and therefore the lung illnesses are likely associated with a chemical exposure.
E-cigarettes are generally thought to be safer than traditional cigarettes, which kill up to half of all lifetime users, according to the World Health Organization. But the long-term health effects of vaping are largely unknown.
"We must not stand by while e-cigarettes continue to go unregulated. We urge the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to speed up the regulation of e-cigarettes and remove all unregulated products from the market," AMA's Harris said.
The FDA said on Friday many of the samples tested by the states or by the agency as part of the investigation contain tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC), the psychoactive component of cannabis and most of the samples with THC also contained significant amounts of Vitamin E acetate. (Reporting by Arjun Panchadar in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)