Based upon findings that were published in the April 14, 2009 issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, irrefutably, people who smoke cigarettes and marijuana are nearly three times more likely to acquire chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a debilitating condition more commonly known as COPD. However, smoking pot alone doesn’t seem to increase the risk of the deadly lung condition, researchers report.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a progressive condition with no cure that’s characterized by diseased lungs and narrowed airways. Most cases are caused by prolonged cigarette smoking, according to the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
Lead researcher Dr. Wan Tan, of the University of British Columbia and St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, Canada, supervised a team of fellow medical researchers that collected data on 878 people who participated in the Burden of Obstructive Lung Disease (BOLD) Initiative, which was designed to identify the prevalence of COPD in people over 40.
At the conclusion of the study, Dr. Tan’s team The researchers discovered that smokers who use both marijuana and tobacco are 2.5 times more likely than nonsmokers to have respiratory disease and almost three times likelier to have COPD.
Dr. Tan: “This combined effect suggests that smoking marijuana – at least in relatively low doses – may act as a primer, or sensitizer, in the airways to amplify the adverse effects of tobacco smoke on respiratory health. Smoking marijuana and cigarettes – even small amounts – is very harmful for your lungs, increasing the risk of COPD by several fold.”
Dr. Norman H. Edelman, a medical consultant to the American Lung Association, said he is inclined to believe that smoking marijuana and cigarettes does increase the risk of contracting COPD, but he also stated that Dr. Tan’s research may be somewhat flawed due to insufficient data on the long-term effects of marijuana smoking. Dr. Edelman’s opinion is that without a large pool of marijuana smokers to have gathered data from, current medical conclusions could be skewed.
“Canada was a good place to do it as they are more relaxed about pot smoking, and it was likely to be easier to get cooperative subjects,” Edelman said. “The most impressive finding is the synergism between tobacco and marijuana smoking.”
“A modest amount of pot smoking added to cigarette smoking really knocks your lungs for a loop,” Edelman added. “One wonders if this is a chemical synergism or behavioral — those who smoke both pot and tobacco inhale each more deeply than those who smoke only tobacco.”
To learn more about COPD, visit the U.S. Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
Until the next time Louisianans, Good Day, God Bless and Good Fishing.