Does Regular Marijuana Smoking Lead to COPD?

Because marijuana is the second most commonly smoked substance in our society after tobacco, the answer to this question is not only relevant but of vital importance.

Most of us are familiar with the pulmonary consequences of smoking cigarettes--COPD and lung cancer among the most prevalent accounting for nearly 300,000 deaths annually in the United States alone. But for those who regularly smoke marijuana, are the consequences comparable?

Since marijuana includes many of the same respiratory irritants and cancer-causing ingredients as cigarettes, it would be reasonable to hypothesize that the consequences of regularly smoking marijuana would be similar to those of tobacco.

In the November issue of Chest Physician, the association of regular marijuana smoking with chronic respiratory symptoms was examined in three published studies of young and middle-aged adults residing in Los Angeles, California, Wellington, New Zealand and Tuscon, Arizona. All three studies showed a correlation between the smoking of marijuana and chronic bronchitis, independent of the effects of cigarette smoking.

In an additional study published in the Canadian Medical Journal, it was revealed that among those 40 and older, smokers were two-and-one-half times more likely than nonsmokers to develop COPD, while combining cigarette smoking and marijuana smoking boosted the odds of developing COPD to three and one-half times the risk than those of non-smokers (of either cigarettes or marijuana).

Essentially, this means that adding marijuana to the mix of cigarette smoking increases the chances of developing COPD by one-third. The study concluded, however, that smoking only marijuana was not associated with an increased risk of respiratory symptoms or COPD.

The bottom line...if you have COPD, smoking cigarettes is bad, and combining cigarettes and marijuana is even worse.

And, according to the Office of National Drug Control, not only does marijuana lead to serious health consequences, but it bears severe social and economic consequences, as well.

If you or someone you love smokes marijuana and cigarettes, encourage them to quit both today. There are many programs available to help.

Read more about the health effects of marijuana.

Need help quitting marijuana? Visit Marijuana Anonymous.

Need help quitting smoking? Learn 10 tips to help you quit smoking.

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