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Smoking marijuana can hurt your lungs more than cigarettes, suggests a study in the Journal of Radiology

Smoking marijuana can hurt your lungs more than cigarettes, suggests a study in the Journal of Radiology


New research suggests that smoking marijuana can do more damage to your lungs than cigarettes.

The study, published in the peer-reviewed medical journal Radiology, found that marijuana may be associated with an increased risk of emphysema compared to smoking cigarettes alone.

The results come as more states legalize the drug and health professionals increasingly concerned about its effects on lung health are calling for more research.

“It’s not surprising to me,” said Dr. David Kaminsky, a pulmonologist and professor of medicine at the University of Vermont who was not involved in the study. “A burning leaf is a burning leaf…the lungs don’t know the difference between tobacco and marijuana.”

According to the Mayo Clinic, emphysema damages the air sacs of the lungs until they eventually burst. It can cause prolonged coughing, shortness of breath, and wheezing, and is irreversible once it develops.

A new study looked at chest scans of 56 marijuana smokers, 33 tobacco-only smokers, and 57 nonsmokers from 2005 to 2020 in Canada. Emphysema was found to be more common in marijuana smokers than never smokers, and more common in marijuana smokers over the age of 50 than in smokers only.

The researchers also found that a subtype of emphysema that affects the outermost part of the lung, called paraseptal emphysema, was more common among marijuana smokers than among cigarette-only smokers, regardless of age. I also discovered that

Scans showed that marijuana smokers had more cases of airway inflammation than those who smoked only or never smoked.

The average amount of marijuana smoked by the participants was about 1.85 grams per day, but less than half of the smokers specified daily use. The study included only smokers over the age of 50 who had smoked at least one pack a day for 25 years.

cannabis plant.

cannabis plant.

Annie Costabile/The Sun Times

Health experts say it’s difficult to directly compare the risks of tobacco and marijuana because the study has several limitations. , the researchers did not consider the participants’ other health conditions.

Still, experts say the study sounds alarming and suggests that smoking marijuana isn’t without risks.

Dr. Albert Rizzo, chief medical officer of the American Lung Association, said:

Research on marijuana and its health effects is limited, with mixed results. Some studies have found that smoking marijuana can cause lung damage associated with an increased risk of chronic bronchitis, but no significant changes in lung function over time.

Cigarette smoking is generally detrimental to lung health, and marijuana “has been shown to contain many of the same toxins, irritants and carcinogens found in tobacco smoke,” the American Lung Association said. Thing.

Marijuana can also be more harmful to the lungs because of the way people smoke it. Users typically inhale deeper and hold their breath longer than cigarette smokers.

Still, there are health benefits for some people who smoke marijuana. For example, inhaling cannabis triggers certain chemicals that can help quickly relieve migraine symptoms, says Jordan Tishler, M.D., a medical instructor at Harvard Medical School and president of the Cannabinoid Professionals Association. I’m here.

“Inhalation is a very important approach to certain medical problems, without which it would be difficult to cope,” said Tishler. “But inhaling doesn’t necessarily mean smoking.”

While advising against e-cigarettes and vaping pens called EVALI, which have been linked to lung damage, Tishler says flower and dried herb vaporizers can expose users to dangerous toxins and It states that dried cannabis can be heated without exposing it to heavy metals.

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