Someone advised you not to smoke cannabis: why? Is the health of a cannabis smoker’s lungs really in danger?
Cannabis light has a beneficial effect for our body due to the high CBD content , but it all depends on how it is consumed.
For example, drinking a herbal tea with legal hemp cannot be a practice comparable to smoking, neither to that of a joint nor to that of a bong or other instrument. In short: there are healthy ways to enjoy the effects of cannabis light, and smoking may not be among them.
Let’s see together the main studies in this regard.
Are marijuana and cigarette smoking comparable?
Generally speaking, smoking is bad for lung health. It releases toxins and carcinogens both in the case of tobacco combustion and in the case of cannabis combustion. In fact, marijuana smoke has been shown to contain many of the same toxins, irritants and carcinogens as tobacco smoke .
So it’s true: smoking marijuana can damage the lungs.
Research shows that regular smoking weed causes chronic bronchitis (as in cigarette smoking) and damages the cell linings of the large airways. This may explain why smoking cannabis often leads to symptoms such as chronic cough, phlegm production, wheezing and acute bronchitis.
According to the same studies, smoking marijuana can damage not only the lungs and respiratory tract, but also the immune system and therefore the body’s ability to fight disease. This is most commonly seen in people whose immune systems are already weakened by immunosuppressive drugs or by diseases, such as HIV infection.
Another potential threat to those with weakened immune systems is Aspergillus, a mold that can cause lung disorders (for this reason, cannabis light must be stored in the best possible way once opened!). This mold can grow on poorly stored marijuana, which when smoked exposes the lungs to the fungus.
However, it rarely causes problems for people with healthy immune systems.
So are the lungs of a marijuana smoker just as bad as a tobacco smoker’s?
The lungs of a cannabis smoker
Although it is absolutely established that combustion causes great damage to the lungs, it must be considered that a marijuana smoker, even an assiduous one, will very hardly smoke 20/30/40 joints a day, as happens with cigarettes.
Indeed, let’s face it: it is practically impossible for that to happen.
Let us now consider a recent study , published in 2017 in the European Journal of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery and conducted in order to verify the health of the lungs of cannabis smokers (with the hope of being able to use them during transplants).
The shortage of lungs that can be used during transplants is truly alarming, so alternatives are being sought so that the number of deaths awaiting transplantation is significantly reduced.
One aspect of this optimization includes the use of lungs from donors with a history of cannabis smoking.
The study conducted on the lungs of cannabis smokers
Researchers collected and analyzed characteristics of both patients and organ donors for all lung transplants performed at their center over a 7-year period. Part of the lungs of marijuana smokers and part of the lungs of nonsmokers were used for the transplant.
This is the first study in medical history that compares the influence of donor cannabis smoking on the health of patients who have undergone a lung transplant.
The recipients were divided into two groups according to the history of marijuana smoking in the donors from whom they received organs:
- the “cannabis” group, consisting of 19 recipients who received lungs from donors with a history of cannabis smoking;
- the control group consisted of 283 recipients with non-smoking marijuana donors.
The researchers considered patients who smoked marijuana more than occasionally (generally more than 20 joints per year) to be “cannabis smokers” .
There was no difference between the health of the recipients of the cannabis group and those of the control group.
Therefore, the history of cannabis smoking by donors does not seem to influence early and medium-term outcomes after lung transplantation, so marijuana smoking should not in itself be considered a contraindication to lung donation (as opposed to tobacco).
Combustion creates major respiratory problems, but it seems that the damage to a cannabis smoker’s lungs is nowhere near as good as that of tobacco smokers.
In fact, patients who receive lungs from donors who smoked cannabis when they were alive tend to get positive results.
Of course, smoking is always not recommended, smoking weed with bronchitis and coughing will certainly worsen the disease, but moderate use may not be as harmful as tobacco smoke.