We’re so happy to welcome back Kathrin Garner, one of our favorite guest bloggers. Kathrin is an enthusiastic journalist and writes articles on social issues. As an activist, she takes part in NCSM program, which is a discussion platform on relevant cannabis topics, such as “Side Effects of Marijuana”. She searches for and writes about current issues for a wide range of readers.
Is Smoking Cannabis Safer than Smoking Cigarettes?
Is smoking cannabis just as harmful as smoking tobacco? Does cannabis cause lung cancer? What’s deal with smoking, anyway?
Many people are asking these questions because they want to know potential health-related effects of weed smoke. Unfortunately, there are no simple answers to them, so we’ll try to explain them by breaking down the latest scientific research.
Marijuana vs. Tobacco Health EffectsCannabis smoke contains many of the same elements as tobacco smoke, so there is a legitimate concern about its adverse health effects. The only way to find an answer to this concern is to look at the body of the current scientific evidence.
A 2012 study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association looked on the effect of cannabis exposure on pulmonary function. The researchers actually measured the effect for 20 years and concluded that occasional and low marijuana smoking wasn’t associated with adverse effects on pulmonary function.
Good news for medicinal marijuana users, right? Well, yeah, but it’s a bit too early to celebrate. The team of researchers at Georgia State University in Atlanta recently reported that marijuana smoking was a great factor for cardiovascular disease risk. Moreover, the effect of marijuana smoke was even greater than that of cigarette smoke!
Specifically, the researchers stated that cannabis users were 3.43 times more likely to die from hypertension. In fact, each year of cannabis use increase the risk of death from high blood pressure increased by 1.04 times.
These results suggested that cannabis smokers may carry even more serious implications on the cardiovascular health than those known for tobacco smoking.
During discussions of side effects of marijuana, smokers sometimes say that one joint is equal to ten cigarettes. But is this really true? Given that the human system, especially lungs, suffers from smoking any plant, this is most likely to be misleading.When it comes to lung cancer, one thing is clear: tobacco smoke is deadly. More than 80 percent of lung cancer cases in the United States are caused by cigarette smoking, so reducing the number of smokers is the number of one priority for healthcare organizations in this area.
The effect of marijuana, however, is not as clear. There hasn’t been a single case of death from lung cancer caused by cannabis smoking. Moreover, you won’t find a lot of lung cancer cases caused by cannabis consumption.
One of the most comprehensive studies which was recently published in the International Journal of Cancer found “little evidence for an increased risk of lung cancer among long-term cannabis smokers.”
So, while tobacco smoke is a major risk factor for developing lung cancer, one cannot say the same about cannabis. Clearly, more research should be conducted to be sure, but at this point, it is sufficient to claim that cannabis smoke is insignificant because it doesn’t contain nicotine, the primary contributor to tobacco-related cancers.
How to Quit Smoking Cannabis
If you going to put away your papers and pipes because you want to quit smoking cannabis, it’s a fairly easy thing to do. Less than 30 percent of regular cannabis smokers develop some kind of dependency similar to addiction. Well, here are some methods to quit if you need.
- Cold Turkey. Simply halting is an option if you have a strong willpower. Often, it’s the physical act of smoking that people become “addicted” to, but if it’s the effects of cannabis that have you hooked, you can also try a different ingestion method that can give you the same effects without the carcinogens and smoke. If it’s a combination of both issues, try chewing gum or any of the other oral distractions cigarette smokers often employ.
- Support group. Having a group of people supporting you on this can be really powerful.
- Exercise. It helps practically with everything, including cravings and withdrawal. By exercising, you can take your mind off smoking cannabis fairly easy.
Benefits of Smoking CannabisWe should also keep in mind benefits of smoking cannabis while discussing this topic. There is a reason why more than twenty states have legalized medicinal cannabis, right? And even though there are other ways to consume this healing plant, smoking in particular could be an effective method for:
- treating glaucoma
- easing or eradicating migraines almost instantly
- quickly reducing anxiety
- improving athletic performance (possibly even lung function)
On the other hand, tobacco is the most preventable cause of death in the world, so it’s pointless to talk about benefits of cigarette smoking.
The Bottom Line
At this point, more knowledge is needed to provide a definitive answer to whether smoking cannabis is safer than smoking tobacco. However, it’s clear that tobacco has more adverse health effects than cannabis.