Smoking alters your lungs, no matter the substance. But, according to a new study, there’s a difference between long-term cannabis smokers and long-term tobacco smokers.
The study, conducted by researchers from New Zealand, showed the differences in which cannabis and tobacco operate. While it found both substances detrimental to people’s health and lungs, it found that smoking tobacco made people’s lungs decline in how much air they can force out while smoking cannabis produced the opposite; cannabis was connected to higher lung volumes.
“Although the effects of cannabis were detrimental, the pattern of lung function changes was not the same. The research found that prolonged cannabis use led to over-inflated lungs and increased the resistance to airflow to a greater extent than tobacco,” said Professor Bon Hancox, one of the study’s co-authors. “It was also found that cannabis use may also impair the ability of the lungs to extract oxygen from the breath. This is a known consequence of smoking tobacco, but has not been demonstrated with cannabis until now.”
Lots of research left to do
The study is one of the longest and most comprehensive studies done on the effect of lifetime cannabis use, tracking over 1,0000 adults until the age of 45, measuring their tobacco and cannabis smoking habits. At the start of the study, when subjects were 18, they all had similar lung health, an overall healthy baseline. By 45, lung damage was apparent, particularly in those who smoked tobacco.
Despite the fact that cannabis has been smoked for ages, very little is known about its effects, with the most evident harm being “bong lung,” a condition that leaves users with bronchitis and permanent lung damage known as emphysema. This condition has appeared in people who abuse cannabis smoking, not in regular or occasional smokers.
Lung damage from cannabis and tobacco has been historically difficult to differentiate, primarily because cannabis smokers tend to be tobacco smokers, at least in years past. In future studies, it’ll be worth looking into whether or not tobacco smoking has decreased and whether or not cannabis users are still tobacco consumers.