One of the arguments for legalizing marijuana, or cannabis, in the United States is that it is virtually harmless when compared to smoking legal cigarettes. Despite the plight of many pot smokers wanting to legalize cannabis in the U.S., there may still be some risk associated with the intake of marijuana. As people fight for their cannabis rights, they may be ignoring serious medical repercussions associated with pot.
According to a recent study conducted in New Zealand, a link between smoking marijuana and lung cancer has been found. Based on the findings, smoking just one joint (marijuana cigarette) is equivalent to smoking 20 cigarettes, which is roughly equivalent to one pack of cigarettes, which are known to contribute to the risks of lung cancer.
The European Respiratory Journal reports that the New Zealand findings show that there is a strong link between cannabis and lung cancer. The results show that smoking marijuana, when compared to tobacco, could harm the airways even more dangerously. Cannabis smoke has been found to contain more than two times the amount of carcinogens, namely polyaromatic hydrocarbons, than tobacco smoke.
The increases risk of lung cancer from smoking marijuana may be directly related to the smoking method. Typically, marijuana is smoked from a pipe or a joint (cigarette) without any filtration. Additionally, a joint is smoked almost to the tip of the cigarette, which increases the intake of smoke. A common practice of pot smokers is to not only inhale the smoke, but to do so deeply and to hold it in longer than with tobacco cigarettes which allows for more carcinogenic exposure to the lung tissue.
The study in New Zealand involved 79 lung cancer patients for whom the researches tried to identify the main cancer risks. All participants were subjected to the same questionnaire with questions covering such topics as family history, smoking habits, occupation, alcohol consumption, and cannabis use. During the study, researchers found that for those participants that smoked more than one joint a day for 10 years, their lung cancer risk jumped by 5.7 times when compared to those who did not.
Richard Beasley, team leader at the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand, where the study was held, contends that, “Cannabis use could already be responsible for one in twenty lung cancers diagnosed in New Zealand.”
The results of this study may well in fact be used as yet another way to support keeping marijuana illegal in the U.S. while the opposing side may find the argument weak as tobacco cigarettes and regular alcohol use have also been found to contribute to cancer risks. Despite that battle, the results of this study should be cause for concern for any young person or adolescent who is contemplating “trying” a joint out.
Tan Ee Lyn, “Marijuana Bigger Risk Than Cigarettes”,AOL Health News
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