Marijuana smokers carry higher risk of developing emphysema compared to cigarette smokers
Marijuana is one of the most widely used psychoactive substances in the world and the most-commonly smoked substance after tobacco. Researchers have found in a new study that airway inflammation and emphysema are more common in marijuana smokers than cigarette smokers. Further the difference may be due to the way that marijuana is smoked and the fact that marijuana smoke enters the...
Marijuana is one of the most widely used psychoactive substances in the world and the most-commonly smoked substance after tobacco.
Researchers have found in a new study that airway inflammation and emphysema are more common in marijuana smokers than cigarette smokers. Further the difference may be due to the way that marijuana is smoked and the fact that marijuana smoke enters the lungs unfiltered.
The findings have been published in Radiology.
The study examined the chest CT examinations of 56 marijuana smokers, 57 non-smokers and 33 tobacco-only smokers between 2005 and 2020. They determined higher rates of paraseptal emphysema and airway inflammatory changes, such as bronchiectasis, bronchial wall thickening, and mucoid impaction, in the marijuana smokers.
Giselle Revah, a radiologist and Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Medicine, was searching for answers on the effect of marijuana on the lungs and its health implications, especially with little information available in the current literature since marijuana only became legal in Canada in 2018.
"I can tell if someone is a heavy or a long-time cigarette smoker when I look at a CT scan. With marijuana being the second most inhaled substance after tobacco, I started wondering: What does marijuana inhalation look like on a CT scan? Would I be able to tell if someone was a marijuana smoker, is it different from cigarette smoke?" says Revah, a radiologist The Ottawa Hospital, where the research was conducted.
"What's unique about this study is that it there hasn't been anything comparing the imaging findings in tobacco smokers to marijuana smokers before. In fact, there is a lack of imaging research in marijuana, probably because it's still illegal in many parts of the world, and in many U.S. states, which is why I think we were the first to do a project like this."
Despite the small sample size, Revah's findings suggest that marijuana smokers saw additional effects on the lungs above tobacco alone, including more instances of large and small airways diseases.
"We've identified an association between marijuana smoking and damage to both the small and the large airways," she said. "We still need more research before we can affect policy change. We need larger, more robust prospective studies with more patients to confirm it."
Luke Murtha, Paul Sathiadoss, Jean-Paul Salameh, Matthew D. F. Mcinnes, Giselle Revah Published Online:Nov 15 2022 https://doi.org/10.1148/radiol.212611
Dr Kamal Kant Kohli-MBBS, DTCD- a chest specialist with more than 30 years of practice and a flair for writing clinical articles, Dr Kamal Kant Kohli joined Medical Dialogues as a Chief Editor of Medical News. Besides writing articles, as an editor, he proofreads and verifies all the medical content published on Medical Dialogues including those coming from journals, studies,medical conferences,guidelines etc. Before Joining Medical Dialogues, he has served at important positions in the medical industry in India including as the Hony. Secretary of the Delhi Medical Association as well as the chairman of Anti-Quackery Committee in Delhi and worked with other Medical Councils in India. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact no. 011-43720751