The Link Between Marijuana and Lung Disease

Marijuana is still being researched by scientists and the American Lung Association is encouraging consumers to consume cannabis by any means other than smoking a joint.

While the jury is still out on the specific effects of marijuana, it is clear that the way cannabis adversely, or otherwise, affects health is heavily dependent on how the marijuana is consumed. For many years marijuana was primarily consumed by smoking it, whether mixed with tobacco or not, and these blunts or joints are smoked just as a cigarette is. Not only are joints smoked but also many other apparatus that include heating marijuana and smoking it. These apparatus include bongs, pipes and other ways of consuming marijuana that would make even the most seasoned cannabis consumer blush. Fast forward from the 80’s and into the present and we have many other techniques that do not include such harsh or brazen equipment. Vaporisers have steadily grown in popularity amongst the new trendier cannabis consumers as well as products like beverages and foods.

Moving on back to the effect cannabis has on lungs. Smoke, in general, is damaging for the lungs. Smoke coming from wood that is being burnt, tobacco, cannabis, or even insense can have effects on the lungs. Carcinogens and certain toxins are released when items are burned. Marijuana smoke can contain the similar toxins and this alone is harmful enough. Some research has also shown that marijuana smokers smoke a bit differently from regular tobacco smokers and that cannabis smokers tend to inhale much deeper than regular tobacco smokers. In addition to this, the research has also shown that marijuana smokers tend to hold their breath longer than usual tabbaco smokers. This means that if the marijuana is mixed with tar, than the lungs are at a higher exposure to the tar.

While smoking in general is damaging to the lungs it is still unclear on the exact effects that cannabis has on the lungs. Smoking can cause various issues including bronchitis and the smoke has shown that it damages the cell linings within the lungs. This could cause other symptoms and illnesses such as phlegm, coughs, wheezing and breathing difficulties. Heavy smokers can cause pockets of air to build up in-between the lungs and the walls of the chest which could lead to more serious health complications. However these complications are for smokers in general, and are not to be specified only for marijuana smokers. The effects of marijuana smokers in specific are unknown and more research is needed although no mater what it is that is being smoked, health issues such as these are sure to arise.

Moving further afield than just the lungs, smoking can be harmful to other areas of the body as well. The immune system is comprised, and especially for people that are already struggling with immune deficiency issues and illnesses, this can become particularly problematic. Smoking causes harm to the body’s initial defence system of the lungs by damaging the cells that get rid of germs, bacteria and dust.

Research has also shown that a specific type of mould is grown on marijuana. This mood is known as Aspergillus. Aspergillus is a cold that is grown on cannabis and can be detrimental for lung health. This mood can cause certain disorders within the lungs and when marijuana that contains this mold is smoked, the lungs are exposed to this fungus and in people with lowered immune systems, health issues can arise. However, it must also be noted that people that have healthy immune systems do not suffer at the hand of this cold as their immune system is fully equipped to deal with the fungus efficiently.

How does medical marijuana fit into this? Medical marijuana is best consumed in ways other than smoking joints or marijuana blunts. While some people may genuinely enjoy this method of marijuana consumption it is ironic if that person is taking marijuana for medicinal means. The American Lung Association has stated that it encourages further research into marijuana for its medicinal properties and usages as well as the potential health risks and effects. On the American Lung Association’s website, the association advises individuals considering medicinal marijuana to consult healthcare professionals and to consider means other than smoking to consume marijuana.

The conclusion is that smoking, whether it is marijuana or tobacco, is harmful for the lungs. Regular smokers expose themselves to the risk of illnesses such as bronchitis and people that already have a lower immune defence system, smoking can be particularly harmful. Lungs are more susceptible to infections ad other serious diseases. Smokers should also be aware that secondhand smoke is also harmful and should not expose people, especially minors, to secondhand smoke.


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