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How does cannabis really affect the lungs

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When it comes to cannabis and our health, there’s a lot we don’t know. What we do “know” is often just plausible misinformation. That’s the situation with cannabis and lungs health, too: googling the topic will yield articles that claim that smoking cannabis has no ill effect at all, as well as a 2012 report by the British Lung Foundation that claims cannabis is 20x more carcinogenic than tobacco. They’re both on the first page! Clearly these can’t both be true, so let’s get to the bottom of it. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: How does cannabis really affect the lungs


1
How Does Cannabis Really Affect The Lungs?
2

When it comes to cannabis and our health,
theres a lot we dont know. What we do know is
often just plausible misinformation. Thats the
situation with cannabis and lungs health, too
googling the topic will yield articles that claim
that smoking cannabis has no ill effect at all,
as well as a 2012 report by the British Lung
Foundation that claims cannabis is 20x more
carcinogenic than tobacco. Theyre both on the
first page! Clearly these cant both be true, so
lets get to the bottom of it.
3
  • Does Cannabis Cause Lung Cancer? 

4
  • Probably not. Burned plant matter of all kinds
    contains chemicals and particles that are harmful
    to lung health, and (contrary to what some people
    say) cannabis smoke does contain some of the
    carcinogens that tobacco smoke does. In fact,
    cannabis contains more of some of them. However,
    the effect that these compounds have on the lung
    is more complicated than just the amount. Some of
    the complicating factors are
  • Different inhalation habits. Cigarette smokers
    frequently take smaller hits, while cannabis
    smokers inhale deeply and hold the smoke in their
    lungs. This increases the amount of tar that is
    left in the lungs.

5
  • Different amounts of smoke inhaled. If one joint
    has three times the amount of carcinogens as a
    cigarette, but you smoke one joint per day
    instead of eight cigarettes, the fact that
    cannabis contains more carcinogens is outweighed
    by the fact that the cigarette smoker takes in
    significantly more carcinogens overall.
  • Combination effects. Much like cannabinoids and
    terpenes modify the effects of THC via the
    entourage effect, the other compounds found in
    burning plant matter can affect the function of
    the present carcinogens. Nicotine appears to
    enhance the cancer-causing effects, while THC
    seems to protect against them. 
  • The idea that cannabis doesnt contain any
    carcinogens is a myth. However, fortunately for
    us, THC seems to protect against them. Long-term
    studies on heavy smokers have not been conducted
    yet its possible that over a long enough period
    of time and with enough cannabis consumed,
    smoking cannabis could contribute to cancer.
    Based on what we know currently, it seems
    unlikely.

6
  • Does Smoking Cannabis Harm My Lungs? 

7

Unfortunately, it probably does. Cannabis smoke
is only 12 cannabinoid content the rest is
non-beneficial particulate and other compounds.
Smoke irritates the airways, causing
inflammation. Which long-term smoking, this can
lead to symptoms like coughing, wheezing,
shortness of breath, excess mucus production,
tight chest, and even the development of chronic
bronchitis. Of course, this depends on how much
cannabis you consume, and by what
methods. Strangely, some studies have shown that
by some methods of measurement, light or moderate
cannabis use can actually improve lung function.
A study performed by the American Thoracic
Society showed amongst their participants,
inhaling one joint per day for 20 years did not
cause any adverse effects on lung health. Another
study showed that cannabis use did not reduce the
lungs volume or lead to any disease of the small
airways. However, this study also showed that
using cannabis increased symptoms of coughing and
shortness of breath. So, cannabis isnt
completely safe, but it wont be taking a
wrecking ball to your lungs the way tobacco does.
As with all things, the key is moderation and
just to be safe, you may want to consider
switching over to vaping.
8
  • Cannabis And Asthma
  •  

9

Of all the things cannabis can treat, I was
pretty skeptical when I saw a site make the claim
that a particular strain was high in pinene,
a terpene that acts as a bronchodilator, and was
thus perfect for people with asthma. This is
counter-intuitive, but not insane. Lets explore
this idea. The part about pinene (and cannabis
itself) being a bronchodilator is true rather
than contracting the airways as tobacco does,
cannabis expands them. This helps counteract the
long-term lung inflammation that asthma sufferers
deal with, which can rapidly alleviate the
symptoms. However, this doesnt mean that
cannabis is good for people with
asthma. Smoking still puts tar and other
particles in your lungs. Long-term, this can
increase the base level of lung inflammation. For
this reason, anyone with asthma should avoid
smoking cannabis or anything else. On the other
hand, vaping cannabis really could be good for
asthma sufferers. After all, the steroid rescue
inhalers that doctors prescribe are essentially
just vaporized bronchodilators. When vaped
instead of smoked, thats what cannabis is, too.
More research is needed to determine cannabis
efficacy in managing asthma, but it does seem
plausible.
10
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