Cannabis could do more harm to some smoker’s lungs and airways than tobacco, based on a small Canadian study published Tuesday.
Experts from the University of Ottawa and the Ottawa Hospital examined chest X ray scans of 56 cannabis smokers [the majority of whom were also tobacco smokers], 57 non-smokers as well as thirty three individuals who smoked just tobacco between 2005 as well as 2020.
When compared with non smokers, regular cannabis smokers had increased rates of airway irritation and emphysema.
“Marijuana smoking is on the rise and there’s a public perception that marijuana is safe, or even that it’s safer than (tobacco) cigarettes,” Giselle Revah, a radiologist at the Ottawa Hospital, the place that the research was carried out, told AFP.
However “this study raises concerns that this might not be true.’
She believes that the distinctions in the way cannabis and tobacco smokers use the drugs may be connected to the higher rates of inflammation and disease.
Marijuana is smoked unfiltered as opposed to tobacco, which is usually filtered, she explained. ‘Whenever you smoke unfiltered marijuana, more particles are entering into your airways, getting deposited there, and irritating your airways,” he explained.
“People generally take bigger puffs and hold the smoke more for marijuana, which could lead to more trauma to those atmosphere spaces,” she said.
The authors of the study, who wrote in the journal Radiology, pointed out that some of the cannabis smokers also smoked tobacco and that some of the lung scans produced inconclusive results, suggesting a lot more study is needed.
As Revah noted, there is very little research on the health consequences of cannabis in general, as it is banned in many countries.
The scientists are based in Canada, where the legalization of cannabis was legalized in 2018.
Additionally it is legal for recreational use in many US states and in Uruguay and Mexico, while a number of other countries and territories have just recently decriminalized possession of the drug or approved it for medical use.