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Study: Marijuana & Lung Disease

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Welcome to Cannabis Conclusions, a unique educational series from Higher Learning LV that is targeted at hemp and cannabis industry professionals. This series provides readers with the conclusion and abstract sections from important modern peer-reviewed research studies.


Marijuana & Lung Disease Study

A 2018 study entitled "Marijuana and Lung Disease" that was published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Chest Journal explored the potential damage caused by marijuana smoking to human lungs. The study was led by Donald Tashkin, MD, one of the leading cannabis researchers in the United States.

Dr. Donald Tashkin, Director of Pulmonary Function Laboratories at UCLA
Dr. Donald Tashkin, Director of Pulmonary Function Laboratories at UCLA

"As marijuana smoking prevalence increases in the United States, concern regarding its potential risks to lung health has also risen, given the general similarity in the smoke contents between marijuana and tobacco," wrote Tashkin.


"Tashkin emphasized that no association between cannabis smoking and emphysema has been identified."

Tashkin continued: "Most studies have found a significant association between marijuana smoking and chronic bronchitis symptoms after adjustment for tobacco...A few studies have found a modest reduction in specific airway conductance in relation to marijuana, probably reflecting endoscopic evidence of bronchial mucosal edema among habitual marijuana smokers."


Marijuana & Lung Disease Study Results

Tashkin emphasized that no association between cannabis smoking and emphysema has been identified. "A large cohort study and a pooled analysis of six well-designed case-control studies have not found evidence of a link between marijuana smoking and lung cancer," reported the pioneering cannabis researcher from California.

An x-ray of human lungs
Does marijuana damage human lungs?

Marijuana & Lung Disease Study Conclusions

The Marijuana & Lung Disease study concluded with the following:


"Although regular smoking of marijuana is associated with an increased risk of symptoms of chronic bronchitis and evidence of inflammation and injury involving the larger airways, lung function findings, although mixed, do not provide compelling evidence that habitual marijuana smoking in the manner and amount that it is generally smoked increases the risk of COPD, at least at the population level.


"Despite the presence of carcinogens in marijuana smoke...the weight of evidence from...epidemiologic studies does not support the concept that habitual marijuana use...is a significant risk factor for the development of lung cancer."

"Despite the presence of carcinogens in marijuana smoke in concentrations comparable with those that are found in tobacco smoke, the weight of evidence from well-designed epidemiologic studies does not support the concept that habitual marijuana use in the manner and quantity in which it is customarily smoked, when adjusted for tobacco, is a significant risk factor for the development of lung cancer.

A man with a beard and sweater standing outside exhales cannabis smoke
Does smoking cannabis harm lungs?

"The immunosuppressive effect of THC and injurious structural changes in the larger airways of habitual marijuana smokers raise the possibility of an increased predisposition to pneumonia. Although a few older epidemiologic studies support this possibility, further studies are required. Several case series have reported evidence of lung barotrauma (pneumothorax/pneumomediastinum) and bullous lung disease in marijuana smokers; however, epidemiologic studies are needed to bolster these uncontrolled observations."


View the original study.

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