The latest story making the rounds is about a study that reveals tobacco smokers who also smoke cannabis have a substantially increased risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Most mainstream headlines are saying that cannabis is the problem. However, the study that the conclusions were drawn from say something different:
“Smoking marijuana and cigarettes is harmful for your lungs even in small amounts if you smoke them together,” said Dr. Tan, who is the study’s lead author.
But the risk of developing COPD was not heightened among those study participants who said they smoked only marijuana.
Researchers don’t know exactly why smoking tobacco and marijuana apparently boosts the risk of the lung disease so greatly. Dr. Tan said they believe a chemical reaction may occur in the individual’s airway that spurs the onset of health problems.
Further, this statement from other experts puts the study into perspective:
Despite this, an editorial being published today with the study suggests that marijuana users may not need to worry their habit will lead to serious lung problems. Dr. Tan’s study, as well as past research, hasn’t identified a strong association between marijuana use and chronic lung disease, writes Donald Tashkin, medical director of the Pulmonary Function Laboratory in the division of pulmonary and critical care medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Dr. Tashkin argued the scant evidence supporting the link means that “we can be close to concluding that marijuana by itself does not lead to COPD.”