Pot smokers don't puff away lung health: study
By Genevra Pittman
NEW YORK | Wed Jan 11, 2012 10:57am EST
(Reuters Health) - A few hits on the bong now and then don't seem to have any detrimental effects on lung health, suggests a new study.
Researchers found that multiple measures of lung function actually improved slightly as young people reported using more marijuana -- at least up to a couple thousand lifetime joints.
"There's no doubt, if you've watched a Harold & Kumar movie, marijuana triggers a cough," said Dr. Stefan Kertesz, from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, who worked on the new study. But questions have remained about the drug's longer-term effect on lung functioning.
"Previous studies have had mixed results," Kertesz explained. "Some have hinted at an increase in lung air flow rates and lung volume (with marijuana smoking), and others have not found that. Others have found hints of harm."
While marijuana smoke has a lot of the same toxins as cigarette smoke, he added, people who use pot tend to smoke fewer joints each day than tobacco users smoke cigarettes. That and the method of inhaling may offer some relative lung protection, researchers have proposed.
Still, the findings don't let marijuana off the hook for long-term health consequences.
"I think a lot more work will need to be done to make any blanket statements about safety," said Dr. Jeanette Tetrault, a substance abuse researcher at the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, who wasn't tied to the new research.
"These are only two measures of pulmonary function and don't really paint the entire picture" of the potential effects of marijuana on the lungs, she told Reuters Health.
The new data come from a long-term study of more than 5,000 young adults in Oakland, Chicago, Minneapolis and Birmingham. From 1985 until 2006, researchers regularly asked participants about their past and current use of cigarettes and marijuana. They also tested how much air their lungs could hold and the maximum rate of air flow out of their lungs.
Not surprisingly, the researchers found that the more cigarettes their participants smoked or had smoked in the past, the worse their lungs performed on both tests, Kertesz's team reported Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
But at least at moderate levels of pot smoking, that didn't seem to be the case -- in fact, the trend was reversed.
Lung volume and air flow rates both increased with each "joint-year" -- the equivalent of 365 joints or pipe bowls -- participants said they'd ever smoked, up until about seven joint-years, or some 2,555 joints.
It was a small overall improvement, though. Lung airflow -- measured by how much air people could blow out in one second -- was no more than 50 milliliters higher in pot smokers compared with non-smokers. The average value for a healthy male is four liters, according to Kertesz.
"It's a very real increase... but it's so small that I don't think that a person would feel a benefit in terms of their breathing," Kertesz said.
"Is this a real increase in lung health? That's the other question. We don't know exactly what's happening inside all of the airways of the individuals who are measured."
One explanation, he said, could be that deep breaths taken by pot smokers when they're inhaling could train them to do well on a test of lung function that involves breathing in and blowing out air as quickly as possible.
That wouldn't necessarily mean their lungs are better off for marathon running, for example.
At the highest levels of pot smoking -- using marijuana more than 20 times in a month, or having over 10 lifelong joint-years worth of smoking -- lung function seemed to decline again, but the researchers noted that there weren't enough heavy marijuana users in their study population to be sure of that.
The study was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
Of course, researchers said, the new findings don't mean people should reach for the bong to boost their lung capacity.
Pot might irritate the lungs in the short term and cause problems for people with asthma, they said. And there's more to consider besides breathing -- like traffic accidents and problems on the job or at school while under the influence.
Whether pot smoking may increase the risks of certain types of cancer is still controversial.
But it's unlikely that it puts users at risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, as smoking does, according to Dr. Donald Tashkin, who studies the effects of marijuana on the lungs at the University of California, Los Angeles but wasn't involved in the new study.
When it comes to diminished lung function, "This particular potential complication of marijuana smoking doesn't appear to be an important risk," he told Reuters Health.
"Therefore, people who are using marijuana for medicinal purposes or recreationally at least could be reassured that they're not harming their lungs in this way."
SOURCE: Journal of the American Medical Association, online January 10, 2012. http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/307/2/173.short
Going in the garage for a minute, be right back...
CURRENT SALE IS ON
"Still, the findings don't let marijuana off the hook for long-term health consequences".
You have no evidence of long term effects?
Maybe you just need more time to come up with some falsities...
What about Willie Nelson and all those other smokers who've smoked cannabis for their whole adult lives, who probably started as teens!
Legalize the gotdamn flowers, you just said it's a lot safer than ciggs!
Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard
Since we're on this topic, I wanted to show you guys, "Pure Gold".
It's the strongest, purest form of MMJ available. It contains 95% pure natural Cannabinoids including 75%+9 THC.
If you ever get a chance, pick some up, it's the bomb!
Wow!!! Can you imagine how many people this product could help...
Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard
If sense were common, everyone would have it.
4/2007-Current 75th Ranked most popular image 1 spot behind Prince's bulge...
Check out my world famous Bob Loblaw's Law Blog at http://www.synergyhw.blogspot.com/...Just kidding, it's a health and wellness blog.
If you strike me down(ban me)I'll become more powerful than ever.. Don't say i don't warn you.
Got my med card in October out in AZ! Got pulled over by the Tempe police... They actually found my eighth in the back of my trunk (searched my car on suspicion I was driving drunk, i don't drink), and were about to arrest me.. I pulled out the card, and they immediately gave it back, and left.
damn wish i could get my hands on some pure gold. i live in the carolina's aint shit legal down here haha
pure gold haha
could anyone help me get my hands on this stuff? surely if i can get aas i can get pure gold haha
When can we relax and smoke a fatty in peace? I've been waiting all my life.
Pure gold < crystal meth. Just do ice its easier to get tooo
dont panic its organic
we okay here in n,y up to 2 oz is a ticket and with the oxycotyn problem here they overlook us potheads
whats up charley