Michiganders have been able to enjoy recreational marijuana since November 2018. But a new study shows that people who smoke marijuana might be doing more harm to themselves than someone who smokes cigarettes.

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The University of Ottawa in Canada did the study and according to Dr. Giselle Revah, a cardiothoracic radiologist and assistant professor,

"The main message is that it may not be as safe as people think it is, and we need more information"

 

How Did The Study Work?

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Researchers compared chest CT results from 56 marijuana smokers, including some who also used tobacco, with 33 who smoked only tobacco and 57 nonsmokers. About 75% of the weed smokers had emphysema compared to 67% of the tobacco-only smokers and 5% of nonsmokers.

What Is Emphysema?

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The Mayo Clinic says emphysema is a lung condition that causes shortness of breath. In people with emphysema, the air sacs in the lungs are damaged. Over time, the inner walls of the air sacs weaken and rupture, creating larger air spaces instead of many small ones. This reduces the surface area of the lungs and, in turn, the amount of oxygen that reaches your bloodstream.

Does Edible Marijuana Cause Any Damage To The Lungs?

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I've never been a big fan of smoking anything because I have asthma and have issues with my lungs anytime I've tried to smoke a cigarette, cigar, or joint. One thing I've tried instead of smoking marijuana to relax is taking a marijuana edible. My thought was that it might be better for my lungs to ingest it instead of inhaling it. Turns out that might be a better option as far as damaging your lungs. Dr. Giselle Revah said,

"It shouldn't cause any lung damage, but whether it affects other parts of the body hasn't been studied."

 

What Did The Study Find Out?

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Dr. Giselle Revah and her partners were able to find out the following information from the study.

  • The chief type of emphysema found in marijuana smokers was paraseptal, which damages tiny ducts connecting air sacs in the lungs. Marijuana smokers also had more airway inflammation.
  • Some men who smoked weed had a surprising side effect: 38% had enlarged breast tissue. That is compared to 11% of tobacco smokers and 16% of nonsmokers.
  • Researchers found no difference in calcium buildup in the heart's main arteries between the two smoking groups. But they called the lung findings worrisome.

Why Would Marijuana Smokers' Lungs Show More Damage?

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Dr. Giselle Revah said one reason has to do with filters.
"Tobacco cigarettes are often filtered, while marijuana is typically smoked without filters. As a result, more particles may be deposited in the airways. Weed smokers also tend to take a bigger puff and hold it in longer before exhaling."
Dr. Albert Rizzo, the chief medical officer for the American Lung Association, wasn't part of the study, but he did share some thoughts on what researchers found.
"We know that marijuana smoke contains the same carcinogens and toxins and tar that cigarette smoking does, but we really don't have long-term studies that are similar to tobacco-related studies because marijuana has not been able to be studied because of its illegal nature. We may not know for 10, 15, 20, 30 years whether or not smoking marijuana by itself leads to lung cancer, we didn't know that for tobacco for a long, long time and that's the concern that we would have."
I personally think marijuana is a great thing and that adults of legal age should have the right to decide what they want to put into their bodies. I do worry about people who smoke weed and the long-term damage that it might cause to their lungs.
My grandma smoked cigarettes for a long time and eventually stopped but unfortunately for her, the damage was done and she is currently on oxygen because she has emphysema. It will interesting to see what researchers find out about marijuana as it becomes legal in more states and more studies are conducted.

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