Anyone who smokes any substance at all will be able to describe without hesitation the discomfort and pain that is associated with inhaling combusted matter, in other words, smoke. Often the most noticeable agitation that occurs when smoking marijuana is usually one of the accepted effects of weed smoke.

Significant amounts of research have been conducted to determine the effects of weed smoke on the respiratory system. The purpose of these studies is to precisely determine what is going on inside the body when smoke is inhaled and what sort of consequences this practice may present.

Studies Show Weed Smoke Wreaks Havoc on Lungs

A substantial study was conducted by Donald P. Tashkin, of the UCLA School of Medicine, in 1997 concerning the damage that smoking weed has on lung tissue and the respiratory system as a whole. He felt that the risks of smoking tobacco were well established and so overwhelming that it would be wise to analyze the second most widely smoked substance, marijuana.

This study focused on two particular kinds of damage: lung cancer as well as infection. As far as cancer goes, the research made a few assertions. Smoking weed produces tar in the lungs much like tobacco does and tar is known to be a major player in the development of lung cancer. Secondly, the study stated that one of the problems associated with marijuana is that it suppresses the body’s natural ability to heal itself via the immune system. This finding is especially troubling news for those who already are suffering from other diseases that may already be wearing down the immune system such as in individuals suffering from AIDS.

I previously wrote an article about the effects of weed on cancer that addressed this issue. I discovered that modern research did agree with these findings that smoking marijuana may contribute to the growth of lung cancers and lower the effectiveness of the immune system. However, an emerging trend is the study of the positive effects of weed on the cannabinoid system which arguably counteracts both of these potential dangers.

As far as lung infection goes though, it’s clear as of now that smoking weed is a leading factor. When the researchers inspected throat and lung tissue by bronchoscopy, individuals who smoked marijuana daily had noticeably increased amounts of redness and inflammation in both areas.

They also analyzed the effects of weed on the population and found that regular smokers had an increased chance of developing lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes bronchitis and emphysema. This appeared to be due to the erosion of protective lung tissues, which led to a greater chance for microbial infections.

Weed Smoke Has Adverse Effects on Lungs, Mostly Avoidable

Though the negative effects of weed on cancer are still very much debatable, it is difficult to find research that will dispute the notion that smoking can, and most likely will, lead to respiratory system infection over a long period of time. Because the damage is mostly associated with the act of smoking and not marijuana itself, an individual can still experience the advantages that cannabis and THC present while minimizing the danger upon lungs by utilizing smokeless options such as through consumption of marijuana food products and vaporization.

  8 Responses to “Negative Effects of Weed Smoke on Lungs”

  1. This is the first study that I have read that suggests that there are negative effects of smoking marijuana. I am curious as to whether or not it will be the last that is not conducted by a government supported group.

  2. Tashkin also said: “”We hypothesized that there would be a positive association between marijuana use and lung cancer, and that the association would be more positive with heavier use,” he said. “What we found instead was no association at all, and even a suggestion of some protective effect.” Tashkin concluded that “that smoking marijuana, even regularly and heavily, does not lead to lung cancer.”

    These quotes from The Washington Post article “Study Finds No Cancer-Marijuana Connection” By Marc Kaufman, Washington Post Staff Writer, Friday, May 26, 2006.

    TheEffectsOfWeed needs to be much more accurate in it’s portrayal of Dr. Tashkin’s work.

    • Yes I agree! Their research is out of date that is tashkin’s previous report. His most current one is where he went more in depth and found no connection with marijuana and cancer!

  3. You mince words regarding Donald Tashkin’s stuies at UCLA. He didn’t “make few assertions” about marijuana and lung cancer (and several other cancers of the throat and neck), he said, (and I quote from ) that “scientists found that even those who smoked more than 20,000 joints in their life DID NOT HAVE AN INCREASED RISK OF LUNG CANCER.” He also said “controlling for tobacco, alcohol and other drug use as well as matching patients and controls by age, gender and neighborhood, MARIJUANA DID NOT SEEM TO HAVE AN EFFECT (on health), despite its unhealthy aspects.”

    Please, don’t pretend to be an accurate voice of truth. You are OBSCURING the truth, when you claim that scientists “make few assertions,” when in fact they DO, though perhaps not consistent with your program.

    • The article (URL blocked) was from Scientific American, titled “Large Study Finds No Link between Marijuana and Lung Cancer” By David Biello, dated May 24, 2006

    • Yankee- I appreciate your critical feedback. I can assure you that my goal is to be objective and provide an accurate portrayal of the effects of weed. In this particular article, I do mention lung cancer, but I mention there are studies outside of Tashkin’s that state marijuana use can lead to lung cancer. The study in particular was done by Dr. Prakash Nagarkatti 2010 which talks about this issue. I have reread this article and I can’t see where I have stated that Tashkin supported the idea that marijuana use could lead to lung cancer. I tried to be careful in this article saying that use “may contribute to the growth of lung cancers”. However, I immediately follow that by saying that other studies (like Tashkin’s for instance) say that use “arguably counteracts … these potential dangers.”

      If I have made any mistake in the portrayal of Dr. Tashkin, it would be driven by my incompetence as a writer (I’m not a professional or anything), and not because of some ulterior motive as you have suggested. If anything, as a weed user myself, my biases lean towards marijuana being a positive, useful substance rather than a product to be shunned. That being said, it would be misleading for me to conclusively say that marijuana use doesn’t lead to lung cancer, just as it would be to say that it conclusively does. The truth is, studies exist that support both of these notions, which is why I try to use words like “may” and “could” because I don’t get the feeling in my own research that there is a conclusion supported by a majority of the scientific/health community either way.

      • My second best friend uses 1/4 oz a month. Should I be concerned and are their reasons physical or mental to be concerned , history over forty years he is very active and healthy?

        • 1/4 oz shouldn’t cause any permanent damage, but there may be some short-term irritation and inflammation for sure. The way your friend uses the weed plays a significant part in that. If they smoke it, that may cause respiratory damage but it shouldn’t be serious, only irritating.

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