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Cannabis linked to lung diseases

4th February 2008

People who smoke one joint of cannabis daily for a year may be at greater risk of developing chronic lung diseases than those who smoke 20 cigarettes a day.


One study of 79 patients in New Zealand found that the risk of lung cancer rose by 8% for each year of smoking one joint a day, and 7% for each year of smoking a packet of cigarettes a day.

The country's Medical Research Institute has warned that the country's cannabis habits may lead to an 'epidemic' of lung cancer.

In an article published in the European Respiratory Journal, lead researcher Richard Beasley said cannabis was potentially more harmful to the respiratory tract than tobacco, because cannabis smoke contains twice the amount of carcinogens, and cannabis smokers end up with five times more carbon monoxide in their blood than cigarette smokers do.

The risk factors were identified in interviews with 79 lung cancer patients: they included smoking, family history and occupation. The patients were also questioned about alcohol and cannabis consumption.

The study concluded that the lung cancer risk was five times greater for patients who smoked more than a joint a day for 10 years, or two joints a day for five years.

Cannabis has also been indicated for the treatment of some chronic and terminal illnesses, especially neuropathic pain, arthritis and multiple sclerosis.

A long-term study of students at New Zealand's University of Otago study showed nearly 80% of participants using cannabis by age 25.

Meanwhile, a second study, published in the journal Respirology found that bullous disease - a form of emphysema - occurs 20 years earlier in cannabis smokers than in cigarette smokers.

This study of 10 patients treated for chronic respiratory problems at the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, showed that all admitted to intense cannabis use for at least a year. The average age of the cannabis users was 41, compared with 65 for tobacco smokers.

Experts say inhaling smoke from any burning object is harmful, and that debate about the effects of cannabis have tended until now to focus on the mental impact, overlooking the damage to the lungs.

Noemi Eiser, honorary medical director of the British Lung Foundation said the New Zealand study highlighted the carcinogenic properties of cannabis smoke.

The UK government may decide later this year whether it will reclassify cannabis as a class B drug, having downgraded it to a class C substance in 2004.

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Wednesday 6th February 2008 @ 14:08

A study of more 2,000 people found no increase in the risk of lung cancer in marijuana smokers. The research was carried out by Dr Donald Tashkin at UCLA and is published in Scientific American. Link here: http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=0002491F-755F-1473-B55F83414B7F0000&modsrc=related_links

This may be related to another study done at Harvard University which found that marijuana cuts lung cancer tumour growth in half. Link here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070417193338.htm

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Article Information

Title: Cannabis linked to lung diseases
Author: Luisetta Mudie
Article Id: 5502
Date Added: 4th Feb 2008


BBC News
Cannabis Risk Higher Than Cigarettes, Study Shows

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