Smoking both marijuana and tobacco can lead to higher risks of chronic pulmonary disease or COPD and other respiratory symptoms, a study published by the CMAJ disclosed. The report, however, clarified that the increased risks are not present when only marijuana is smoked.
COPD is a respiratory condition with a high death rate. It is identified by narrowed airways and diseased lungs. It has been widely studied in the past but the current study is unique in that it used an older population of adults who are more than 40 years old.
For the purposes of their study, the researchers defined smokers as individuals who reported to have smoked at minimum of 365 cigarettes in their entire lifetime and as individuals who have only smoked marijuana.
From their population of smokers, the researchers found that those who smoked both marijuana and tobacco were 3 times more at risk of developing COPD and 2.5 times more at risk of having respiratory symptoms.
One of the researchers, Dr. Wan Tan of the University of British Columbia and the St. Paul’s Hospitals explained that their team were able to detect synergistic effects between marijuana and tobacco smoking. According to him, the said effects suggest that marijuana smoking is a possible primer that amplifies the negative effects of tobacco smoking on a person’s respiratory system.
This research, however, was limited to currently available information about the possible differences of marijuana strength, differences in inhalation style, and the statistics of smokers who combine marijuana and tobacco in one cigarette.
Dr. Wan Tan also clarified that their study does not definitively conclude that smoking marijuana alone has harmful effects to the lungs. “Larger studies are needed to address this critically important issue in the future,” he added.
Meanwhile, Dr. Donald Tashkin of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) commented on the significance of the study at hand. According to him, “The findings of Tan and colleagues add to the limited evidence of an association between marijuana use and COPD because their study focuses on an older population (aged 40 or older) that is at greater risk of COPD.” He also noted that the study is one step closer to “concluding that marijuana smoking by itself does not lead to COPD.”
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