Chest CT shows that marijuana use isn't harmless

Tuesday, November 28 | 1:50 p.m.-2:00 p.m. | T6-SSCH06-3 | Room E350

Chest CT shows that marijuana smoking has a negative effect on the lungs and chest wall, according to research to be presented Tuesday afternoon.

A team led by Jessie Kang, MD, of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, investigated the impact of marijuana smoking by assessing the CT chest images of regular smokers.

The study included four groups: nonsmokers, cigarette smokers, marijuana smokers, and marijuana and cigarette smokers who had undergone chest CT. The marijuana users had smoked for at least two years and at least four times per month. Study outcomes included emphysema, mucous plugging, bronchial wall thickening, and gynecomastia.

Kang and colleagues found the following:

  • The proportion of patients with paraseptal emphysema was higher in the marijuana and cigarette smokers and cigarette smoker-only groups.
  • The association of marijuana-only smokers with paraseptal emphysema was five to seven times higher than nonsmokers.
  • Association of marijuana and cigarette smokers with bronchial wall thickening was four times as high as nonsmokers.
  • There was no association between gynecomastia and the marijuana-smoking group.

"There is a common public misconception that marijuana smoking is not as [harmful] as cigarette smoking," Kang and colleagues noted. "More research needs to be done in this area so the public can make an informed decision on their recreational usage of marijuana. With our study, we show that there are physical effects of marijuana smoking on the lungs, and that cigarette smoking and marijuana smoking may have a combined damaging effect on the lungs."

Delve further into their results by attending this presentation.

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