Canadian researchers have observed that individuals who smoke marijuana are more at risk than tobacco cigarette smokers for emphysema—a condition where the air sacs of the lungs become damaged, causing shortness of breath. The diagnostic radiology experts from Ottawa Hospital presented their study at the 2021 ARRS Virtual Annual Meeting.
The study had three groups of participants, matched for age and sex: Marijuana smokers, non-smokers, and tobacco-only smokers. Clinical radiologists graded chest CT scans of all the participants in which they found 93 percent of marijuana smokers had significantly elevated signs of emphysema. Only 66 percent of tobacco smokers had clinical markers of emphysema.
The team also found that more marijuana smokers demonstrated a more severe form of emphysema known as paraseptal emphysema.
“Marijuana smoking is also associated with airways disease, including bronchial wall thickening, bronchiectasis, and bronchiolar mucoid impaction, in comparison to both the control group and tobacco-only group,” said study lead Luke Murtha.
According to Murtha, these findings are particularly significant with the legalization of marijuana resulting in its more widespread use.
“Given that marijuana use is increasing, particularly within nations, such as Canada, that have legalized the substance, it is important for us, as radiologists, to define specific findings associated with its consumption,” the authors explained.
Source: Medical Xpress.