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article imageStudy: Marijuana doesn't harm lung functionality

By Mark M Drewe     Jan 11, 2012 in Health
Results published by researchers from California and Alabama Universities have shown that smoking pot doesn't harm a user's lung functionality.
Pot smokers can breathe a smokey sigh of relief: a 20-year study, one of the longest ever done on the health effects of smoking marijuana, have shown that occasionally smoking a joint, or even smoking one joint a day, has no effect on a lung's functionality. In fact, according to the study, it may even increase a lung's functionality.
This is in stark contrast to cigarettes - which have long been shown to have detrimental effects on a lung's long term function. Instead, researchers pointed to the active ingredient, THC, as being one major difference between marijuana and cigarettes that may block some of the harmful shared ingredients, Yahoo News writes.
The study, which involved over 5,000 people, also gave insight to why some pot smoker's lungs are actually more functional then non-smokers':
Unlike cigarette smokers, marijuana users tend to breathe in deeply when they inhale a joint, which some researchers think might strengthen lung tissue. But the common lung function tests used in the study require the same kind of deep breathing that marijuana smokers are used to, so their good test results might partly reflect lots of practice, said Kertesz, a drug abuse researcher and preventive medicine specialist at the Alabama university.
The study, which began in 1985, asked participants about their usage levels of cigarettes and marijuana. Additionally, they also ran tests to measure the amount of air the user's lungs could hold and how fast they could exhale. While the results indicated a loss in lung functionality from cigarette smokers, moderate pot smokers did not experience the same. However, the results also did not indicate a large increase in lung functionality or capacity, noting a rise of only 50 milliliters over non-smokers, who averaged 4 liters of lung capacity.
Also of note in the study was the mixed results for heavy use pot smokers:
At the highest levels of pot smoking -- using marijuana more than 20 times in a month, or having over 10 lifelong joint-years worth of smoking -- lung function seemed to decline again.
The researchers conceded that they did not have enough members in the study to get a definitive measurement of heavy marijuana usage's effect on lung functionality.
While these results are encouraging for marijuana activists and users, the study also pointed out that they were not researching marijuana's potential to cause cancer, or throat irritations and coughs. They also noted that people shouldn't look towards marijuana as a method to increase lung capacity, since the other effects of being high can cause functional impairments (such as operating machinery, and productivity at work or school).
More about Health care, Drug use, Marijuana, Lungs, Drug abuse
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