COPD Risks With Pot

COPD Risks With Pot

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a highly uncomfortable illness that worsens over time. This disease is worth understanding, as it is a leading cause of death among individuals who smoke. People who regularly consume marijuana may want to learn more about this illness and find out how to prevent it.

Pot isn’t just a problem because it causes distorted perception, memory issues, loss of coordination, emotional dependency, and changes in brain function. Regularly lighting up may also contribute to COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) symptoms. It turns out that both cigarette and pot smoking can greatly increase a person’s risk of COPD, but smoking pot alone doesn’t seem to increase the risk of the deadly lung condition.

What is COPD?

According to the American Lung Association, COPD is the third leading cause of death in the United States. This preventable disease is often called chronic bronchitis or emphysema and does include those similar illnesses.

It is a progressive disease that makes breathing difficult as it damages air pathways in the lungs. There is no cure for this disease and it becomes progressively worse over time.

Signs of COPD include wheezing, excess mucus, blue tint to fingernails or lips, chronic respiratory infections, fatigue, shortness of breath, and a chronic cough. Most cases are caused by prolonged smoking, according to the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, and yet most anti-smoking campaigns focus solely on cigarettes.

“Anti-smoking campaigns should include a reduction in marijuana use among their goals, aiming especially at those who smoke both marijuana and tobacco,” said study lead researcher Dr. Wan Tan, of the University of British Columbia and St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, Canada.

In the same study, researchers found that smokers who use both marijuana and tobacco are 2.5 times more likely than nonsmokers to have respiratory disease and almost three times more likely to have COPD. This led researchers to theorize that smoking marijuana 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.

As a result, the study proved that smoking marijuana– even in small amounts– is very harmful for your lungs, increasing the risk of COPD by several fold,” Tan said.

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Formal Citation of Scholarly Article:

Tashkin, D. P. (2009). Does smoking marijuana increase the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease? CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association Journal180(8), 797–798. http://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.090142

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