Cannabis, more harmful to the lungs than tobacco?

A Canadian study finds higher rates of inflammation and emphysema in cannabis smokers.

According to a study published Tuesday, November 15 in the journal Radiology, smoking cannabis is more harmful to the lungs than tobacco.

Researchers from the University and the Ottawa Hospital scrutinized the chest X-rays of 56 cannabis smokers, 57 non-smokers and 33 tobacco users between 2005 and 2020.

Cannabis and tobacco: what results?

What the scientists found were higher rates of airway inflammation and emphysema among cannabis smokers compared to tobacco smokers and non-smokers.

Giselle Revah, radiologist at the Ottawa Hospital, first recalls:

Marijuana use is on the rise and there is this idea that it is harmless, or safer than cigarettes.

According to her, it is the way the different products are smoked that is the main explanation for these results:

Marijuana is smoked without a filter whereas tobacco usually is. When you smoke unfiltered marijuana, more particles reach your airways, settle there and irritate them. Marijuana use is on the rise and there is this idea that it is harmless, or safer than cigarettes.

Longer-lasting smoke

And this is another habit that reinforces this theory:

People generally take bigger puffs of marijuana and hold the smoke in their lungs longer, which can lead to greater trauma to those air spaces.

Despite this, other studies will have to confirm this link. First, because the scientists who conducted this study inform us that some of the subjects studied smoked both tobacco and cannabis. Second, because some chest X-rays didn’t show anything useful. Not to mention that the prohibition of cannabis in many countries does not allow research to be carried out.

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