Tobacco and cannabis cause different lung damages, study finds

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In a simple town named Dunedin, a group of researchers from the University of Otago embarked on a journey to understand how our lungs react to different types of smoke.

Their findings brought new insights into the conversation about smoking, especially at a time when the world is increasingly embracing the use of cannabis alongside tobacco.

For years, scientists and doctors have known that smoking is bad for our lungs. But what’s new here is the discovery that tobacco and cannabis, although both harmful, don’t damage our lungs in the same way.

This is especially noteworthy because, across the globe, a lot of people are using cannabis, making this study particularly relevant.

Bob Hancox, a professor involved in the study, shared something interesting. He noted that people who frequently use cannabis might find their lungs getting over-inflated and facing more resistance when they breathe, even more than those who smoke tobacco.

This was a surprise because, until now, many thought only tobacco could make it harder for lungs to get the oxygen they need.

The backdrop of this study is the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study, an impressive project that has been following the lives of over 1,000 individuals born in Dunedin during 1972 and 1973.

They’ve been tracked all the way to their 45th birthday, providing a goldmine of data on how cannabis affects lung function over a lifetime.

What’s even more interesting is that about three-quarters of these participants tried cannabis at some point. This high number is thought-provoking, considering that, in many places, cannabis hasn’t been legal, making it hard to study its effects thoroughly.

One of the striking findings from this research is the identification of a condition humorously but seriously called “bong lung.”

This condition, seen in heavy cannabis users, shows severe lung damage and has sparked conversations among medical professionals. The study suggests that the lung issues they’re seeing could be the early stages of this condition.

This isn’t the first time researchers have noticed that cannabis and tobacco smoke affect the lungs differently.

However, Hancox and his team’s work adds weight to this observation, highlighting the unique risks for people who smoke either or both substances.

One of the big questions that remains is why cannabis affects the lungs differently from tobacco. As laws around cannabis use are changing worldwide, understanding its health impacts is becoming more critical.

This study sheds light on the need for more research, especially as more people might choose to smoke cannabis, legally.

The implications of these findings are vast, not just for individuals who smoke but also for healthcare providers and policymakers.

As we navigate these changes, such studies are crucial in helping us make informed decisions about our health and the regulations that govern our choices.

The journey of understanding how different substances affect our lungs is far from over.

But for now, this study from the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine offers a significant leap forward in our knowledge, reminding us of the complexities of smoking and its impact on our health.

If you care about lung health, please read studies about marijuana’s effects on lung health, and why some non-smokers get lung disease and some heavy smokers do not.

For more information about health, please see recent studies that olive oil may help you live longer, and vitamin D could help lower the risk of autoimmune diseases.

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