Smoking marijuana more deadly than cigarette smokers: study

Smoking marijuana more deadly than cigarette smokers: study

Smoking marijuana in combination with cigarettes can damage the lungs more than cigarettes alone, a new study shows.

The study was published on Tuesday in the peer-reviewed journal Radiology showed that marijuana use may be associated with an increased risk of emphysema compared to smoking only tobacco. The trend is further worrisome by the fact that cannabis users are on average younger – most were under 50 – than cigarette smokers.

Emphysema develops over time as the lung tissue is damaged and causes the air sacs to rupture and trap air in the damaged tissue and prevent oxygen from moving through the bloodstream. It can cause shortness of breath, coughing up mucus, wheezing and chest tightness, and is irreversible once it develops.

Over 3 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with the potentially fatal disease despite it being one of the most preventable respiratory diseases, according to the American Lung Association.

Researchers from the Department of Radiology at the Ottawa Hospital found that 75% of people in the study who smoked marijuana, potentially with tobacco, developed emphysema, while only 67% of smokers who smoked only tobacco showed signs of the disease. Only 5% complete non-smokers were diagnosed.

Furthermore, they saw that paraseptal emphysema, a specific subtype of the disease that affects the outermost parts of the lungs, was more common among marijuana smokers compared to those who only smoked tobacco.

The study looked at chest radiographs of 56 marijuana smokers — 50 of whom were also current or former tobacco users — 33 occasional smokers and 57 non-smokers, taken between 2005 and 2020.

But the small study of 150 participants in Canada had limitations. The researchers did not collect enough data on how the subjects consumed cannabis, how often they smoked it, or how long they kept up the habit. The method by which cannabis users inhale the substance makes a difference: Blunts, for example, contain tobacco in a wrapper.

Only tobacco smokers in the study were found to have consumed at least one pack – 20 cigarettes – per day for the past 25 years.

The researchers also did not take into account other pre-existing health conditions.

“There is a public perception that marijuana is safe or that it is safer than cigarettes. But this study raises concerns that this may not be true,” said study lead author Dr. Giselle Revah, assistant professor of radiology at the University of Ottawa. in the statement for Agence France-Presse.

“The American Lung Association says that the only thing that should be going into your lungs is clean air, so if you breathe something in, it could potentially be toxic to your lungs,” Revah said in a CNN report.

“There’s definitely a concern that we’re going to see another generation of lung disease linked to these behaviors,” said Dr. Albert Rizzo, chief medical officer of the American Lung Association. USA Today.

The researchers point out that marijuana and tobacco are smoked differently, with marijuana smokers typically inhaling deeper and longer, while tobacco is usually smoked with rapid exhalations. Conventionally produced cigarettes also have a filter that can trap certain harmful toxins.

Due to limitations, experts acknowledge that the study cannot fully compare marijuana and tobacco safety, but agreed that the findings point to further research as the drug’s use is on the rise. E-cigarettes are too increasingly popular and should be included in future research.


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