Cannabis Impacts on Lung Health do not Mirror the Harms of Tobacco, Study Shows

Cannabis Lung Health - GCI Content Hub - Global Cannabis Intelligence

Study on lung health shows that smoking cannabis is not associated with the same physiological health impacts as tobacco smoking.

A longitudinal study on the impact of cannabis and tobacco on lung function has found that smoking cannabis is not associated with the same physiological consequences on lung health as tobacco smoking.

According to Norml, new research carried out by a team of New Zealand scientists and published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, examined the long-term effects of cannabis and/or tobacco smoking in a cohort of 881 participants. Cannabis and tobacco use were reported at ages 18, 21, 26, 32, 38, and 45.

What did the study show?

Corroborating prior studies in the field, this study shows that – unlike tobacco inhalation, which diminishes lung capacity – cannabis inhalation is associated with higher total lung capacity.

The study also found that cannabis and tobacco smoke are not equally carcinogenic, with cannabis inhalation exposing users to fewer toxicants than tobacco. In line with prior studies, researchers concluded that cannabis smoke exposure does not have the same health consequences as tobacco smoking, including increased risks of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) or lung cancer.

Researchers conclude that cannabis has clearly distinct effects on lung function than those of tobacco. Moreover, the effects of widespread cannabis use will not necessarily mirror the harms caused by tobacco smoking.

Although this research does not ignore the harms of smoking cannabis, it does provide valuable longitudinal data on the ways in which the harms of cannabis inhalation differ from those of tobacco.

Further, it provides valuable insight into how patients may medicate cannabis safely. Smoking whole flower cannabis is often used as the most effective delivery mechanism to treat certain conditions, such as some forms of severe epilepsy.

The use of vaporisation technology, which heats cannabis to a temperature below the point of combustion, is associated with diminished exposure to toxic gasses. Vaporisation has been identified as a safer and more effective cannabis delivery device in clinical trials.

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