The British Lung Foundation (BLF) recently released a report stating that the risk of developing lung cancer is as much as twenty times greater from a marijuana joint than a tobacco cigarette.
The primary reason for this, according to the study, is that marijuana users hold smoke in their lungs for prolonged periods of time in order to absorb THC into their system. Cigarette users, on the other hand, inhale and exhale smoke relatively quickly. Holding smoke in the lungs for long periods of time greatly enhances the carcinogenic (cancer causing) effects of the smoke.
The BLF said that its report is the most comprehensive review of research data yet compiled on the subject of cannabis use. The survey was conducted by Taylor Nelson Sofres (a leading research panel) among a sample of 1,045 people throughout England.
The study’s findings differ from those from a recent study conducted by the UAB Division of Preventative Medicine. The latter study found that marijuana does not cause lung damage. In fact, the UAB study said that occasional marijuana use led to increases in lung capacity and air flow rates. That study, however, did not examine marijuana as a potential carcinogen, but instead only addressed its impact on lung capacity and air flow rates.
The study only addressed smoking joints, and did not discuss whether the carcinogens were lessened when smoking through a different method, such as a water bong or a vaporizer. The study also did not address infused edibles as an alternative to smoking marijuana.
According to BLF, 17.4 million Americans (6.9% of the population) have admitted to using marijuana. The drug is equally widespread in the UK, with 6.8% of 16-59 year olds in England and Wales having used cannabis in the past year.
The BLF is a charity that works to eliminate the “alarming disconnect” between the public perception of marijuana as a safe drug and growing evidence which demonstrates that smoking marijuana could have carcinogenic effects.
As a result of their findings, the BLF wants to launch an awareness campaign, similar to other campaigns that have been released about the harms associated with tobacco use, alcohol use, and obesity. The organization wants to “dispel the myth that smoking cannabis is somehow a safe pastime.”
88% of people in the UK believe that smoking cigarettes is worse for your health than smoking cannabis.
The rest of the medical community has yet to comment on the BLF study, which just adds to the ever growing pool of contradictory reports on the safety or danger of utilizing marijuana. Unfortunately, most countries are unwilling to commit major resources to the study of marijuana and its negative or positive effects.
In the United States, this is due to the fact that marijuana is still considered a Schedule I drug, the most severe categorization for drugs, putting marijuana on the same level as heroin and LSD. Schedule I drugs are considered to have no safe, accepted medical use in the United States.