Cannabis and Emphysema
Cannabis and Emphysema

Cannabis Use Reduces Risk For Emphysema

New Study Looks at Cannabis and Emphysema

Posted by:
HighChi on Tuesday Sep 25, 2018

Cannabis Use Reduces Risk For Emphysema

Emphysema is a progressive respiratory disease affecting the lungs. Over time, the inflation of air sacs in the lung known as alveoli causes shortness of breath. These are the beginning stages of emphysema, and eventually the lung tissue that is responsible for the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide that we need to breathe is destroyed.


Emphysema belongs to a group of conditions called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. Emphysema is considered an obstructive lung disease because exhalation or airflow is stopped or inhibited due to the inflated alveoli, which no longer exchange gases when you breathe. COPD conditions are one of the leading causes of death in the United States, but the number one risk factor is preventable: cigarette smoking. Other risk factors include heredity, age, and the male sex.


Shortness of breath is the most common and distinct symptom of emphysema. The others include coughing, the presence of mucus, and wheezing. A person with emphysema would no longer be able to do their regular workout routine because breathing would be grow more difficult over time. In fact, the deterioration caused by emphysema is often so slow that it’s not uncommon for it to go unnoticed until it’s too late. This is usually the case for cigarette smokers. The treatment for emphysema varies depending on the severity of the condition. Smokers will be advised to stop smoking immediately; other treatment methods include bronchodilating medications, steroid drugs, antibiotics, and oxygen through a tube. Surgery may also be recommended for individuals with advanced cases.


While many prohibitionists like to argue that cannabis smoking actually causes lung infections including emphysema, the research we have today says the opposite. Sure, there’s evidence that chronic smoking of any kind, whether tobacco or marijuana, may harm the lungs. But if you’re a moderate or mild smoker, this could have beneficial effects.

How Cannabis Prevents Emphysema


A recent study published early this year revealed that long-term cannabis use isn’t linked to a decrease in lung functioning. In fact, the study says that it may actually reduce the risk for developing emphysema.


The study, published in the journal Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases, was conducted by researchers from medical institutions around the country including California, Colorado, Maryland, and New York among others. The researchers analyzed the relationship between long-term cannabis use and the lung health of 2,300 patients with ages ranging from 40 to 80.


“This cross-sectional analysis of participants enrolled into the SPIROMICs cohort was performed to investigate the relationships between marijuana use and pulmonary function and symptoms,” it reads. It also says that, “Those enrolled were carefully screened and recruited based on tobacco use history and spirometric function.”


The researchers wrote: “Neither current nor former marijuana use was associated with increased risk of cough, wheeze, or chronic bronchitis when compared to never marijuana users after adjusting for covariates.” Current and past cannabis use “was associated with significant less quantitative emphysema.” The conclusions shared the same findings as older studies, saying that they “also did not find that marijuana use was associated with more obstructive lung disease.”


An older study, which is said to be the “most comprehensive and authoritative review on the subject ever published,” was released in 2013. Researchers from the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California in Los Angeles discovered that any respiratory complications that arose from cannabis use were “relatively small.”


For the study, they looked at research on the subject that took place over the last 30 years. After compiling all the findings and evidence, the researchers concluded that it was a common misconception that cannabis use led to emphysema and other COPD-related conditions. The study’s primary author, Donald Tashkin, concluded: “…. The accumulated weight of evidence implies far lower risks for pulmonary complications of even regular heavy use of marijuana compared with the grave pulmonary consequences of tobacco.”


Dr. Mark Ware from McGill University wrote: “Cannabis smoking is not equivalent to tobacco smoking in terms of respiratory risk… Cannabis smoking does not seem to increase risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or airway cancers. In fact, there is even a suggestion that at low doses cannabis may be protective for both conditions… This conclusion will affect the way health professionals interact with patients, parents, and teenagers, and policy makers with their constituents.”


Why Cannabis Is Different From Tobacco


As a cannabis user, you can go the extra mile in protecting your lungs by switching up your method of consumption. Opt for vaporizers that use low temperatures, edibles, or tinctures to prevent any irritation to the lungs especially if you have a history of tobacco smoking and want to prevent complications in the future.

Medical Marijuana Use Reduces Risk For Emphysema from CannabisNet on Vimeo.








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