Emphysema and airway inflammation are more common among marijuana smokers than cigarette smokers, according to a study of a small group of patients published by the Radiological Society of North America, as marijuana use among young adults continues to grow.
Examination of chest CT scans among 56 marijuana smokers, 57 non-smokers and 33 tobacco-only smokers between 2005 and 2020 indicated higher rates of emphysema in marijuana smokers.
Of the smokers tested, 75% of the marijuana smokers had emphysema, compared with 67% of tobacco-only smokers and 5% of the non-smokers.
In addition to emphysema, airway inflammation was also more common among marijuana smokers.
Giselle Revah, a cardiothoracic radiologist and professor at the University of Ottawa in Ottawa, Canada, said she decided to test a small sample size because “we know very little about” the effects of marijuana smoking on the body, according to a release.
Revah notes the differences between smoking marijuana and smoking tobacco, like marijuana being smoked without a filter and how it is generally inhaled with a longer breath hold than tobacco, as possible causes for more cases of emphysema.
A survey published by the National Institutes of Health indicates 43% of young adults aged 19 to 30 have used marijuana within the last year.