Researchers from the University and the Ottawa Hospital examined chest X-rays of 56 cannabis smokers, 57 non-smokers and 33 people who smoked tobacco only between 2005 and 2020. Result: They found higher airway inflammation and emphysema (a lung disease) in cannabis smokers compared to tobacco smokers and non-smokers.
“Marijuana use is on the rise and there’s this idea that it’s harmless, or that it’s safer than cigarettes,” said Giselle Revah, a radiologist at the Ottawa Hospital, where the research was conducted. “But this study raises concerns that it might not be accurate,” she added.
According to this specialist, the higher rates of inflammation and disease in cannabis smokers compared to tobacco smokers could be linked to the different ways in which drugs are generally consumed.
“Marijuana is smoked without a filter whereas tobacco usually is,” she explained. “When you smoke unfiltered marijuana, more particles reach your airways, settle there and irritate them. What’s more, according to this expert, “people generally take bigger puffs of marijuana and hold the smoke longer in their lungs, which can lead to greater trauma to those air spaces.”