JUN 28, 2021 9:16 AM PDT

Can Smoking Cannabis Cause COPD?

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is an umbrella term for chronic lung conditions including chronic bronchitis and non-reversible asthma-like symptoms. As around 90% of people with COPD have smoked, some may wonder whether smoking cannabis may be a precursor for the condition. 

As cannabis is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, research has been limited on its effects on the body, and whether it may cause COPD. Moreover, as quantities of different cannabinoids consumed vary depending on the strain, size of the joint, how much smoke was inhaled and for how long, being able to compare any existing studies may be difficult. 

Nevertheless, there is some evidence that suggests that smoking cannabis, like smoking cigarettes, may be linked to COPD. This comes as cannabis smoke contains many similar chemicals as cigarette smoke, and nevertheless irritates the airway due to its temperature. As such, smoking cannabis long term may increase coughing and mucus production while damaging mucus membranes and increase the risk of lung infections. 

How cannabis is smoked may also have an impact. When smoking cannabis, people tend to have a two-thirds larger puff volume, a one third larger inhaled volume and four times longer time holding their breath. 

review from 2014 found that such inhalation techniques may cause four times more tar to be inhaled, and a third more to reach the lower airways, than when smoking cigarettes. They can also lead to a fivefold increase in carbon monoxide in the blood and a decrease in oxygen. This is because carbon monoxide is more likely than oxygen to bind to haemoglobin. 

These factors alone may increase one's risk of developing COPD, especially given increased levels of carbon monoxide in the blood may be linked to more severe cases of COPD due to lung and systemic inflammation. 

 

Sources: BMJOffical Journal of the Asian Pacific Society on RespirologyNCBI

About the Author
  • Annie Lennon is a writer whose work also appears in Medical News Today, Psych Central, Psychology Today, and other outlets. When she's not writing, she is COO of Xeurix, an HR startup that assesses jobfit from gamified workplace simulations.
You May Also Like
MAY 19, 2021
Cannabis Sciences
Cannabis May Reduce Pain in Treatment-Resistant Fibromyalgia
MAY 19, 2021
Cannabis May Reduce Pain in Treatment-Resistant Fibromyalgia
An Italian researcher found that long-term use of various cannabis products, including herbal cannabis and oil extracts, ...
JUN 04, 2021
Health & Medicine
Huge Canadian Market Suggests How Useful Cannabis can Be for Veterans
JUN 04, 2021
Huge Canadian Market Suggests How Useful Cannabis can Be for Veterans
Medical cannabis reimbursements by Veterans Affairs Canada — the department within the Government of Canada with r ...
JUL 15, 2021
Health & Medicine
The Effect of Cannabis Dispensary Density on Young People's Cannabis Use
JUL 15, 2021
The Effect of Cannabis Dispensary Density on Young People's Cannabis Use
As cannabis dispensaries have sprung up in legal states all around the USA, there has been little analysis of their impa ...
JUL 31, 2021
Cannabis Sciences
Can CBD Treat Psoriasis?
JUL 31, 2021
Can CBD Treat Psoriasis?
With cannabidiol (CBD) becoming increasingly available, many are wondering about its utility in treating various conditi ...
AUG 04, 2021
Health & Medicine
Cannabis Drug Sativex to Be Tested in Phase II Brain Tumor Trial
AUG 04, 2021
Cannabis Drug Sativex to Be Tested in Phase II Brain Tumor Trial
  A phase II trial is being planned to test the cannabis-derived drug Sativex, in patients with aggressive brain tu ...
AUG 12, 2021
Cannabis Sciences
Medicinal Cannabis May Help with Stuttering
AUG 12, 2021
Medicinal Cannabis May Help with Stuttering
Medicinal cannabis reduced treatment-resistant stuttering in a 20-year-old male patient. The case study was published in ...
Loading Comments...