In the largest study ever conducted about the effects of marijuana on the lungs, researchers found that periodic pot smoking is not harmful to lung capacity.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that even those who smoked a joint a day for seven years, or once a week for 20 years had no decline in lung capacity.
The debate about the harmful effects of marijuana to the lungs has been going on for years. In fact, people with COPD who smoke pot have written to me expressing their concerns about previous studies. Study results have been contradictory at best -- some suggesting no harmful effects on the lungs, some suggesting adverse effects, and even others suggesting that it actually improved lung function.
Researchers conducting the new study knew the harmful effects of tobacco smoking on the lungs, but, wanted to clear the air once and for all about whether or not marijuana produced similar, deleterious effects.
The study took multiple lung function measurements in over 5,100 pot-smoking men and women during a 20-year study period. What they found surprised even them -- that some people who smoke pot may actually see a slight improvement in lung function.
Dr. Donald Tashkin, professor of medicine at UCLA has studied the relationship between smoking marijuana and lung function for over 3 decades. He believes the study confirms what other research has also concluded:
"This is a well-done study involving more subjects than in the past. The public should take away it's a confirmatory study, but larger and longer than previous studies demonstrating, once again, that smoking marijuana does not impair lung function, unlike tobacco."
Researchers warn, however, that this is not a green light for lighting up. Dr. Taskin states:
"We're only talking about one end point. We're not looking at lung cancer, chronic bronchitis symptoms. We are not looking at other effects, behavioral effects. We are looking at lung function."
How do you feel about these results? Do you think people will smoke more pot as a result of this study? Will study results give people the wrong message? What about other adverse effects of smoking pot? Share your comments below.