It has now been a full year since Philips recalled millions of CPAP and BiPAP machines because they were causing users to inhale harmful and potentially carcinogenic chemicals particles in their sleep. Since that time, a growing body of evidence has emerged to suggest that inhalation of these foam particles may be linked to several specific types of cancer.
We are still waiting for clinical research studies to give use a definitive answers about the causative connection between prolonged use of a Philips CPAP device and increased rates of cancer. But hundreds of former CPAP users are already filing CPAP recall lawsuits alleging that they developed different types of cancer as a result of the chemicals they were exposed to.
This post will provide an overview of the various types of cancer alleged by plaintiffs in Philips CPAP recall lawsuits so far. We will also look at some of the current scientific theories and evidence connecting the recalled CPAP machines to cancer.Recalled Philips CPAP Devices Exposed Users to Cancer Causing Chemicals
In June 2021, the home healthcare product company Philips announced that it was recalling all of its CPAP and BiPAP machines. The recalled covered an estimated 4 million devices that were used by millions of people every night for the treatment of sleep apnea and related conditions.
Philips initiated this massive recall after being forced to acknowledge the overwhelming evidence that the sound abatement foam used in the machines was breaking down and causing users to inhale tiny particles of harmful chemicals. The polyurethane sound abatement foam (called “PE-PUR”) was used in the CPAP devices to dampen sound and vibration.
When the recall was announced, Philips admitted that the PE-PUR foam in its CPAP machines had a tendency to rapidly degrade over time. Once the PE-PUR foam in the began to degrade it began releasing tiny particles into the air pathways of the device. These chemical particles would then be inhaled by the CPAP user all night long as the slept.
The inhalation of particles from the degraded PE-PUR foam presented a major health hazard to users because chemical analysis of the foam particles revealed that they contain several known carcinogens. In the recall announcement, Philips admitted that “lab analysis of the degraded foam reveals the presence of potentially harmful chemicals including Toluene Diamine, Toluene Diisocyanate, and Diethylene glycol. Philips also disclosed that testing showed the presence of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCS) that could have “short- and long-term adverse health effects[.]”FDA Warns that CPAP Foam Particles Present Risk of Cancer
Soon after Philips initiated the CPAP recall, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a public safety announcement recommending that individuals stop using recalled CPAP devices unless otherwise advised by their doctor. In the safety announcement, the FDA advised that inhaling the chemical foam particles in the CPAP machines could have “Toxic and Cancer-Causing Effects.”
The FDA included this cautionary statement about the potential cancer-causing risks posed by the recalled CPAP devices based on existing scientific research suggesting that the specific chemicals in the foam particles may be carcinogenic. At least 4 of the chemicals found in the foam particles have been shown to cause cancer in animal testing. This has prompted each of them to be classified as probably human carcinogens.Evidence Linking Chemicals in Recalled CPAP Machines to Cancer
Based on the initial laboratory analysis results disclosed by Philips as part of the recall announcement, the foam particles in the recalled CPAP devices contained at least potentially 5 carcinogenic chemicals. These chemicals have been shown to induce various types of cancer in animal testing.
Chronic exposure to carcinogenic chemicals is well-recognized as significant risk factor for the development of cancer. Certain types of chemicals can actually damage or alter DNA triggering gene mutations at the cellular level which evolve into cancer. Other toxic chemicals can lead to cancer by stimulating abnormal cell division.
One of the current scientific theories is that prolonged inhalation of the toxic gases emitted from chemicals in the foam particles of recalled CPAP machines will be directly linked to lung cancer because of the mode of exposure. Exposure through inhalation can also lead to the development of blood cancer such as leukemia, multiple myeloma, and lymphoma.
In addition to inhalation of gases, users of recalled Philips CPAP machines also inhaled and swallowed the chemical foam particles themselves. There are countless reports of users of Philips CPAP machines ingesting black dust or debris from their CPAP device.
Inhaling and ingesting these black foam particles caused users of the recalled CPAP machines to metabolize the harmful chemical components in the particles. Digestion of these chemicals could potentially lead to other types of cancer that would not seem to be directly linked to CPAP treatment (e.g., kidney cancer, liver cancer, thyroid cancer, and breast cancer).Most Common Cancer Types in CPAP Recall Lawsuits
Our firm has been accepting new CPAP recall cases since the recall was first announced last year. Based on the incoming cases we have accepted, the most common types of cancer in Philips CPAP recall lawsuits so far are lung cancer and kidney cancer. These two cancers account for around 45% of all types of cancer being alleged by CPAP recall plaintiffs.Chronic Inflammation from Recalled CPAP Devices May Cause Cancer
Inhalation of the harmful foam particles in recalled CPAP devices reportedly caused many users to suffer chronic inflammation of their respiratory tract. This type of chronic inflammation over a prolonged period of time has been identified as an independent risk factor for cancer.
Research has shown that chronic inflammation can degrade cellular DNA and/or lead to the production of proteins called cytokines. Over production of cytokines from constant inflammation can stimulate the development and growth of cancer by feeding tumors with blood and nutrients. A study published in 2015 found that approximately 20% of all cancers are likely caused by or related to chronic inflammation and cytokines.
This research suggests that the chronic respiratory inflammation experienced by users of recalled Philips CPAP devices could contribute to higher rates of cancers in the areas of inflammation. This would include lung cancer, throat cancer, and other types of cancer involving the respiratory tract.CPAP Cancer Victims May Be Entitled to Settlement
As more facts emerge about the Philips CPAP recall, it is becoming increasingly obvious that Philips was well aware of the potential issues with the PE-PUR degrading and being inhaled by users. Not only was Philips clearly aware of the issue, they apparently knew about for years and chose to simply ignore it.
Philips chose to prioritize profitability over public health and safety. Now Philips is facing on wave of product liability lawsuits by former CPAP users who have been diagnosed with cancer and other health conditions.Contact CPAP Recall Cancer Lawyers
If you have been diagnosed with cancer after using a recalled Philips CPAP device, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Contact us at 800-553-8082 for a free consultation.