It has been more than a year since Philips recalled millions of CPAP and BiPAP units because their users were inhaling dangerous and potentially cancer-causing chemical particles while they slept. Since then, a growing body of information has shown that breathing in these foam particles may be connected to a number of distinct cancer types.
People who use CPAP machines typically don’t contract cancer from them. The specific types of cancer that the foam in recalled Philips CPAP machines causes are still being researched.
In the Philips CPAP recall lawsuits that have been filed thus far, various cancer types have been raised by the plaintiffs. We will also examine some of the recent scientific hypotheses and data linking the recalled CPAP devices to cancer.
Do CPAP Machines Cause Cancer?
Many CPAP users who heard about the recall began to wonder if they were at an increased risk of developing cancer. Many people have experienced anxiety as a result of this, and some have even started to question whether they should continue using their CPAP.
You shouldn’t be concerned if your CPAP is not one of those included in the recall. The use of CPAP machines does not generally raise cancer risk. CPAP side effects are possible, but they’re typically not severe. Cancer risk was caused by problems with the particular materials used in some Philips CPAP machines rather than by CPAP itself.
Why Were Philips CPAP Machines Recalled?
The Philips CPAP devices have a problem with a specific kind of foam that is used to reduce noise and vibrations that occur while the machine is operating. Polyester-polyurethane, or PE-PUR, foam is the specific type Philips selected, but PE-PUR foam is not particularly resilient and can degrade over time. The breakdown of the foam is accelerated by hot, muggy weather as well as by the use of specific CPAP cleaning devices that sterilize the machine using ozone or ultraviolet light.
Two significant problems can arise when PE-PUR foam degrades. One is that the tiny foam granules may get inside the air pathways because of the design of the device. The user can then breathe in or swallow these particles after blowing them into the mask of the apparatus. The breakdown of PE-PUR foam also results in the release of a number of chemicals, some of which are toxic. Off-gassing refers to this. Even brand-new PE-PUR foam exhibits some of it, and according to Philips, off-gassing may continue for the duration of the device’s use.
Do Recalled Philips CPAP Machines Cause Cancer?
It’s critical to stress that this recall is a relatively recent development. It takes many years to conduct the necessary research to precisely identify all of the health risks, including cancers, associated with contact with a faulty Philips CPAP machine. It will take some time before we can determine the precise scope of the health risks these devices pose, and we might find other risks as well.
However, we can draw conclusions from what we already know about PE-PUR foam and the substances that are released when it degrades. According to research conducted by Philips, when PE-PUR foam breaks down, it can unleash a variety of compounds, including:
- Toluenediamine, which has been classified as a “probable human carcinogen” by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- Toluene diisocyanate, which has been classified as a “possible human carcinogen” by the EPA
There were also a number of additional potentially harmful chemicals found, many of which have a number of grave health consequences. These have been found to be the main carcinogens.
According to the information available, a faulty Philips CPAP machine does have the potential to result in cancer. That possibility is undoubtedly known to the company. When it announced the recall, Philips listed “carcinogenic effects” as one of the “potential risks” of both particulate exposure and chemical exposure due to off-gassing.
What Types of Cancer Are Associated With Philips CPAP Machines?
As more studies come to a conclusion, we will once again learn more about the specific cancers that Philips CPAP machines are linked to. However, based on the studies that have been done to date, toluenediamine and toluene diisocyanate are linked to the following:
- Liver cancer
- Breast cancer
- Lung cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Brain cancer
Additionally, swallowed PE-PUR foam particles are thought to have cancer-causing potential. In its safety communication about the recall, the FDA indicated that ingested particles of the foam could cause “toxic or cancer-causing effects to organs, such as kidneys and liver.”
Although studies have connected these cancers to chemicals released by PE-PUR foam, this list may not be comprehensive. This problem might be connected to other cancer types. Studies are still being conducted to learn more about the specific health risks that the faulty Philips CPAP machines present.
Have People Died from Using Recalled Philips CPAP Machines?
When it first announced the recall in June 2021, Philips stated that the company had “not received reports of life-threatening injury or death due to this issue.” However, since the recall was announced, things have changed. In May 2022, the FDA stated that it had received over 21,000 reports of actual or potentially serious injuries related to Philips CPAP devices, including reports of 124 fatalities. These cases are currently being reviewed by the FDA, which will probably take some time to complete.
What Should You Do If You Used a Recalled Philips CPAP Machine?
Registering your device is the first step. If your device was impacted, Philips will either fix it or replace it. The PE-PUR foam must be taken out of the damaged area and replaced with silicone-based foam. Patients should be aware that the FDA has raised potential safety concerns regarding the replacement foam as well. This new foam may release some hazardous chemicals and failed one safety test. Although this problem has not yet been fully examined, patients may want to be aware of this information before deciding to use the repaired device. The FDA is not advising patients to stop using their repaired devices at this time, though.
A new or repaired CPAP machine may take some time to arrive. The recall has caused a shortage of CPAP machines, so you could try to find one from a different manufacturer, but many patients have found this to be challenging. This could imply that your options are to continue using your damaged CPAP until you can get a new one or to temporarily discontinue CPAP therapy and deal with the consequences of untreated sleep apnea. Your health may be at risk if you choose either of these options. There are some potential complementary therapies for sleep apnea, such as oral appliance therapy. To determine which course of action is best for you, you should talk about this with your doctor.
We strongly advise you to get in touch with a qualified product liability attorney if you’ve experienced health problems, such as cancer, that may be related to using your Philips CPAP. These CPAP devices are the subject of ongoing lawsuits against Philips. You might be awarded money to cover your pain and suffering and to assist with the cost of your medical bills associated with your defective CPAP. You might also be entitled to compensation if a loved one of yours passed away from a disease like cancer that could have been caused by a Philips CPAP.
You have a finite amount of time after a serious medical occurrence to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer accountable for creating the defective product. This is known as the statute of limitations. Therefore, it’s critical to move quickly. Waiting too long could prevent you from pursuing compensation for the harm you sustained.
It can be shocking to learn that your CPAP machine may be making you ill if your doctor has prescribed one to treat your sleep apnea. What you should know about the cancer risks if you’ve been using a CPAP, BiPAP, or ventilator made by Philips Respironics.