According to a newly released study that will come as no surprise to marijuana consumers and advocates, cannabis is completely “distrinct from tobacco” in that it is not associated with either lung cancer, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). The study, titled Cannabis use disorder and the lungs, was published in the most recent issue of the journal Addiction. Prior to this it was epublished ahead of print by the U.S. National Institute of Health.
According to the study, exposure to marijuana – even regular, chronic exposire – has no negative impact on the lungs as with tobacco. This includes the fact that it does not lead to an increase in lung cancer or COPD risk.
For the study researchers examined clinical trial data with the goal of determining the impact of marijuana exposure on the risk level of lung cancer and COPD.
“[T]he effects of smoking cannabis on the lungs are distinct from tobacco”, states the study.
“[I]t has been pragmatic to assume that cannabis and tobacco would have similar respiratory effects”, states researchers. T”he research that has been done, however, offers a different story. The most common serious respiratory consequences from smoking tobacco are Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and lung cancer. Epidemiological evidence that smoking cannabis causes either of these is scant.”
According to the study, there is “little epidemiological evidence of an association between cannabis and emphysema”.
The study’s full abstract can be found below:
Cannabis is one of the world’s most widely used recreational drugs and the second most commonly smoked substance. Research on cannabis and the lungs has been limited by its illegal status, the variability in strength and size of cannabis cigarettes (joints), and the fact that most cannabis users also smoke tobacco making the effects hard to separate. Despite these difficulties, the available evidence indicates that smoking cannabis causes bronchitis and is associated with changes in lung function. The pattern of effects is surprisingly different from that of tobacco. Whereas smoking cannabis appears to increase the risk of severe bronchitis at quite low exposure, there is no convincing evidence that this leads to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Instead cannabis use is associated with increased central airway resistance, lung hyperinflation, and higher vital capacity with little evidence of airflow obstruction or impairment of gas transfer. There are numerous reports of severe bullous lung disease and pneumothorax among heavy cannabis users, but convincing epidemiological data of an increased risk of emphysema or alveolar destruction are lacking. An association between cannabis and lung cancer remains unproven with studies providing conflicting findings.
The study was conducted by researchers from the following locations:
- Department of Respiratory Medicine, Waikato Hospital, Hamilton, New Zealand.
- Department of Preventive & Social Medicine, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.
More information on this study can be found by clicking here.