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article imageWhich is worse for the lungs: Cannabis vs. tobacco?

By Tim Sandle     Apr 8, 2021 in Health
Inhaling anything into the lungs will, over time, cause damage. But which is worse for the user: inhaling tobacco smoke or cannabis? New research has been probing for the answer.
The new research comes from Canadian scientists who have undertaken observational studies looking at smokers of different products. The research finds that people who regularly smoke marijuana seem to be at a greater risk when compared with regular tobacco cigarette smokers.
This is in relation to the lung disease emphysema. With this disease the air sacs of the lungs (alveoli) become damaged. In turn, this triggers shortness of breath. The research comes from radiology subject matter experts based at Ottawa Hospital.
To arrive at this finding, the research group used a cohort of three sets of participants. The subjects were sorted for age and sex. With the three groups, these consisted of cannabis smokers, non-smokers, and tobacco-only smokers.
A number of medical and observational measurements were made. These included chest computerized tomography scans of all the participants. These data revealed that 93 percent of marijuana smokers had far higher elevated signs of emphysema. In contrast, only 66 percent of tobacco smokers indicated clinical markers of emphysema.
As well as incidences, the data found that a far higher proportion of marijuana smokers demonstrated a more severe form of emphysema. This more serious form is known as paraseptal emphysema. The condition is also closely linked to pulmonary fibrosis and other types of interstitial lung abnormalities.
Speaking with Laboratory Roots, lead researcher Luke Murtha states: “Marijuana smoking is also associated with airways disease, including bronchial wall thickening, bronchiectasis, and bronchiolar mucoid impaction, in comparison to both the control group and tobacco-only group.”
The researchers hope the finings will be contextualized when drug use is discussed and expansion in legislation considered.
The new research has been issued to the virtual 2021 American Roentgen Ray Society (ARRS) Annual Meeting.
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