Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles have found that smoking cannabis does not carry the same risks as smoking tobacco.
Longitudinal data published in the journal Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases found that cannabis use is not associated with an elevated risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), even among those possessing a clinically high risk for developing the disease. Researchers in the study assessed the relationship between cannabis use and COPD development in a cohort of middle-aged and older subjects who either smoked or formerly smoked tobacco cigarettes. They found that neither former nor current cannabis smoking was associated with evidence of COPD progression or its development.
COPD is the name given to a group of lung conditions that cause breathing difficulties. The condition mainly affects middle-aged or older adults who smoke. The breathing problems tend to get gradually worse over time, and can limit normal activities, although treatment can help keep the condition under control. According to the British Lung Foundation, an estimated 1.2 million people are living with diagnosed COPD.
“In [this] cohort of ever-tobacco smokers of ≥20 pack-years with established COPD or at risk of developing COPD followed over an average of more than four years, a history of current and/or former smoking of marijuana of any cumulative lifetime amount was not found to be associated with a significantly deleterious impact on progression of COPD,” authors of the study said. “Among ever-tobacco smokers in the same cohort without COPD at enrollment, self-reported current and/or former concomitant marijuana smoking, including heavy marijuana smoking, was not found to be associated with an increased risk of subsequently developing COPD.”
In another recent longitudinal study, conducted by the University of Queensland in Australia, a cohort of 1173 young adults between the ages of 21 and 30 who smoke cannabis, tobacco, both, or neither were tracked over the course of nine years. The findings, published in the journal Respiratory Medicine, revealed a correlation between tobacco smokers and reduced airflow. Those who exclusively smoked cigarettes or combined cigarettes with cannabis experienced decreased airflow. However, cannabis usage did not exacerbate these reductions. Even after nine years of usage, exposure to cannabis smoke did not appear to affect the lungs or respiratory function in those studied.
To further reduce the risk of cannabis consumption consider switching from smoking to using a dry herb vaporiser.