Marijuana Smokers Breathe Easy Says The University of Alabama
by Terrica America
As of January 10, 2012, a new study has been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association exonerating marijuana from the bad reputation of being as harmful to your lungs when smoked as tobacco cigarettes. Researchers at the University of California San Francisco and the University of Alabama at Birmingham completed a twenty-year study between 1986 and 2006 on over 5,000 adults over the age of 21 in four American cities. Study co-author Dr. Stefan Kertesz is a professor of preventive medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He explained that the studies measured the pulmonary obstruction in individuals with up to seven joint-years of lifetime exposure (one joint per day for seven years or one joint per week for 49 years). "What this study clarifies," Kertesz explains in a released video, "is that the relationship to marijuana and lung function changes depending on how much a person has taken in over the course of a lifetime."
Lung function was determined by testing the volume of expiration in the first second of exhaling and the amount of air a person can force out in one second after taking a deep breath. The higher an individual’s number, the better the lung functionality. The study found that at the level of one marijuana cigarette per week for 49 years, or one joint a day for seven years patients who only smoked tobacco had 24 fewer milliliters of volume in the first second of an exhalation than the average of someone who doesn’t smoke at all. Marijuana smokers who did not smoke tobacco had 0.7 more milliliters of volume. The marijuana-only smokers also had 8.2 milliliters more air exhaled after a full inhalation in comparison to non-smokers while tobacco-only smokers had 19 milliliters less. Researchers were surprised to find an increased airflow with increased exposure to marijuana up to a certain level. The results are surprising, because marijuana smoke contains similar noxious ingredients and chemicals as tobacco smoke, which is known to impair lung function. Until now it has been unclear whether regular marijuana smoking led to the same injuries to the lungs. It was speculated by Dr. Keresz that the way pot is smoked (the common exercise of holding one's breath after inhaling cannabis smoke to increase its heady effects) might have some cause to people to doing well with the lung function test. Pulmonologist, Dr. Donald Tashkin from the University of California also added that one reason marijuana smoke might not be as harmful as tobacco smoke, despite containing similar noxious ingredients, may be the fact that its active ingredient, THC, has anti-inflammatory effects. “We don’t know for sure,” he said, “but a very reasonable possibility is that THC may actually interfere with the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.”
Basically, though these studies do not depict what the consequences are of inhaling marijuana smoke, their findings suggest that occasional use of marijuana may not be linked with unfavorable consequences on pulmonary function. Marijuana is designated by the U.S. government as a Schedule I drug, which declares it has no medicinal purposes. Previous studies have shown that the drug can be used to treat multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, nausea, and pain. It has been known to have beneficial effects on pain control, mood, appetite, and managing of other chronic symptoms. Despite these facts, marijuana continues to be depicted as more damaging to us than it’s legal counterpart tobacco. Marijuana activists, medical patients, and recreational users alike will rejoice knowing the evidence shows otherwise.