Study: Marijuana Smoking Not Associated With Airway Cancers, COPD, Emphysema, Or Other Tobacco-Related Pulmonary Complications

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 9, 2013

    Pulmonary complications associated with the regular smoking of cannabis are “relatively small” and far lower than those associated with tobacco smoking, according to a recent review published in the June edition of the scientific journal Annals of the American Thoracic Society.

    The paper – authored by Donald P. Tashkin, MD, emeritus professor of medicine and medical director of the Pulmonary Function Laboratory at the David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California, Los Angeles – is “the most comprehensive and authoritative review of the subject ever published,” according to an accompanying commentary. Donald Tashkin conducted US-government sponsored studies of marijuana and lung function for over 30 years.

    His review finds that although smoking cannabis may be associated with symptoms of chronic bronchitis, studies do not substantiate claims that it is positively associated with the development of lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, or bullous lung disease.

    “[H]abitual use of marijuana alone does not appear to lead to significant abnormalities in lung function,” Tashkin writes. “[F]indings from a limited number of well-designed epidemiological studies do not suggest an increased risk of either lung or upper airway cancer from light or moderate use. … Overall, the risks of pulmonary complications of regular use of marijuana appear to be relatively small and far lower than those of tobacco smoking.”

    Writing in an accompanying commentary, McGill University’s Dr. Mark Ware concludes: “Cannabis smoking is not equivalent to tobacco smoking in terms of respiratory risk. … [C]annabis smoking does not seem to increase risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or airway cancers. In fact, there is even a suggestion that at low doses cannabis may be protective for both conditions. … This conclusion will affect the way health professionals interact with patients, parents with teenagers, and policy makers with their constituents. … Efforts to develop cleaner cannabinoid delivery systems can and should continue, but at least for now, [those] who smoke small amounts of cannabis for medical or recreational purposes can breathe a little bit easier.”

    Full text of the study, “Effects of marijuana smoking on the lung,” appears in Annals of the American Thoracic Society.

    35 responses to “Study: Marijuana Smoking Not Associated With Airway Cancers, COPD, Emphysema, Or Other Tobacco-Related Pulmonary Complications”

    1. Cat Cassie says:

      With all this positive information coming out about mj how is it so many people are still against legalization??

    2. Thank you for this study!

    3. jose conseco says:

      those piece of shit reagans.

    4. Jay says:

      Ignorance is a bliss. There are a lot of ignorant people, not stupid(although there are a lot of stupid people too), just ignorant. So it is our job to educated these people and hope to gain some followers for the legalization movement.

    5. John says:

      Because they don’t know the real affects of cannabis… I know a few people in my school who think weed kills your brain cells.

    6. Galileo Galilei says:

      @Cat Cassie – I’ve noticed sometimes certain ideas just don’t ever seem to sink in with the general populace. For example, the difference between a scientific THEORY, which explains a widely diverse set of facts, and the word theory as used by the lay public, which is little more than a whimsical guess.

    7. Anonymous says:

      might want to do a study on the marijuanna that is out in the real world, ie, hydro, chemically grown marijuanna, not bush weed grown naturally, and it might answer why people who have never smoked tobacco in their life but smoke pot, get cancer.. moron

    8. phrtao says:

      Great study and a good reason to smoke cannabis rather than tobacco. Has even more significance in Europe where many people still smoke cannabis mixed with tobacco yet think of the mixture as just cannabis. I think smoking is an outdated means of ‘cannabinoid delivery’ (as the article points out) but a move away from smoking will only really gather pace once legalisation has happened on a much wider scale.

    9. W Rups says:

      The money it generates for the people to fight it. Both law enfacement and the money to the corporate prisons The money that drug companies and alcohol companies think they will lose. And I would not be surprised to find congressmen that vote against it also get some money from mexican cartels. Like most everything else its not for the good of the majority of people its for the pockets of the few.