Marijuana and the lungs

Marijuana is used in a variety of ways, which include smoking, brewing it in tea and adding it to food. But smoking still remains the most popular form of consumption.

Marijuana smoke relaxes the airways to the lungs which enables it to pass into the lungs. This smoke is held in the lungs for a longer period of time than tobacco smoke which may expose the lungs to a greater risk of damage from carcinogens, toxins and tar.

Marijuana is smoked in the following ways:

  • Joint: a cigarette which contains a mixture of tobacco and marijuana.
  • Blunt: an empty cigar casing (tube) which contains marijuana only.
  • Bong: a water pipe through which marijuana smoke is inhaled

When marijuana is smoked it can cause a burning sensation in the mouth and throat and coughing.

Frequent use of marijuana especially if smoked as a joint often causes a range of illnesses which are more commonly seen in tobacco smokers. These include asthma, recurring chest infections, e.g. bronchitis and lung infections.

Many users find that they have a persistent cough and bring up phlegm in the mornings.

Carcinogenic hydrocarbons

Marijuana smoke contains more carcinogens than tobacco smoke – as much as 70% more than tobacco, but this does not mean that it will automatically lead to cancer.

A carcinogenic hydrocarbon is a substance or chemical which may cause cancer.

It has the potential to do so due to these carcinogenic hydrocarbons and other substances but there are other factors to consider such as the chemicals contained within tobacco such as nicotine.

There have been some studies which suggest a possible link between lung cancer and marijuana but this is unproven. Further evidence is needed.

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