10 Dec Smoking Pot and Cigarettes Increases Risk of Emphysema
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Jessie Kang, MD, FRCPC
Department of Diagnostic Radiology
Faculty of Medicine
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
- Marijuana is the most widely used illicit psychoactive substance in the world.
- Use has increased in Canada since legalization of non-medical marijuana in 2018.
- It is commonly believed that smoking marijuana is not harmful to the lungs. There is an abundance of established research that identifies the harms of cigarette smoking. In contrast, very little is known about the effects of marijuana smoking, and even less research has been done on the combined effects of smoking marijuana and cigarettes.
To determine the effects of marijuana and cigarette smoking, we examined the chest CT images of four patient groups: non-smokers, cigarette smokers, marijuana smokers, and combined marijuana and cigarette smokers.
Marijuana smokers included in the study had smoked marijuana at least four times a month for two years. Patients who ingested marijuana via edibles or oral drops were excluded from the study.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: We found that people who combined marijuana and cigarettes were 12 times more likely to have centrilobular emphysema than non-smokers. Combined marijuana and cigarette smokers were three to four times more likely to have airway wall thickening, which can lead to infections, scarring and further airway damage. Association with marijuana only and smoking only with bronchial wall thickening was not as significant. Similar results were seen with centrilobular and paraseptal emphysema, suggesting that the combination of cigarette and marijuana smoking may have a synergistic role on the lungs and airways.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: People who smoke both cigarettes and marijuana are more likely to have emphysema. Combined marijuana and cigarette smokers were also three to four times more likely to have airway wall thickening, which can indicate damage to the airways. Marijuana that is smoked is often unfiltered, which can potentially lead to more damaging particles entering the airways and lungs.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a results of this study?
Response: Longer studies with heavy, regular marijuana smokers is needed to better understand the effects of marijuana use on the lungs.
Disclosures: Grant from Canadian Radiological Foundation and Canadian Heads of Academic Radiology.
Citation: RSNA 2023 abstract
Is Smoking Marijuana Safe? The Effects of Smoking Cannabis on the Chest
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Last Updated on December 10, 2023 by Marie Benz MD FAAD