Casual Pot Smoking Not Harmful: Study

One of the reasons cited in the study is that people inhale more deeply when smoking pot - thus exercising their lungs.

By Lori Preuitt
|  Wednesday, Jan 11, 2012  |  Updated 9:05 AM PDT
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Marijuana Cupcake Anyone?

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Doing this is apparently better for your lungs than smoking a cigarette.

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Tokers rejoice - a new study shows occasional marijuana smoking does not harm your lungs. It also shows that smoking pot is not as bad for you as smoking cigarettes.

The UC San Francisco research shows smoking marijuana once a week does not harm lungs. The results bolsters evidence that weed doesn't damage your health like tobacco.

The study's conclusion was printed like this:  "Occasional and low cumulative marijuana use was not associated with adverse effects on pulmonary function."

One of the things that needs to rise to the top here is that the study is talking about people who smoke pot once a week compared to cigarette smokers who light up several times a day. The difference in frequency alone could be the key to the study.

Its one of the largest and longest studies on the health effects of marijuana ever and Oakland is one of four cities where the research was done. 

The findings are similar to smaller studies that show although marijuana has some of the same toxic ingredients as tobacco, it doesn't carry the same risks for lung disease.

The study followed 5,115 men and women aged 18 through 30 in four cities: Birmingham, Chicago, Minneapolis and Oakland.  The group was periodically asked about recent marijuana or cigarette use and had several lung function tests during the 20 year study.

It's not clear why that is so, but it's possible that the main active ingredient in marijuana, a chemical known as THC, is the difference between a joint and a cigarette. THC is what gives smokers the "high" effect. It also helps fight inflammation and may counteract the effects of more irritating chemicals in the drug, according to Dr. Donald Tashkin, a marijuana researcher and an emeritus professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. Tashkin was not involved in the new study but talked to the Associated Press.

Dr. Stefan Kertesz was part of the study. He noted unlike cigarette smokers, marijuana users tend to breathe in deeply when they inhale a joint, which might strengthen lung tissue.

The results are not as clear for heavy marijuana users. The data suggest that using marijuana often might cause a decline in lung function. Researchers added that there weren't enough heavy users among the 5,000 young adults in the study to draw firm conclusions.

Even with the results, the authors recommended "caution and moderation when marijuana use is considered."

For the record: marijuana is an illegal drug under federal law although some states allow its use for medical purposes.

Below is one of the scientists explaining the study.

 

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