Advertisement

Damaging Effects of Cannabis Use on the Lungs

  • Josef Yayan
  • Kurt Rasche
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 952)

Abstract

Cannabis is the most widely smoked illicit substance in the world. It can be smoked alone in its plant form, marijuana, but it can also be mixed with tobacco. The specific effects of smoking cannabis are difficult to assess accurately and to distinguish from the effects of tobacco; however its use may produce severe consequences. Cannabis smoke affects the lungs similarly to tobacco smoke, causing symptoms such as increased cough, sputum, and hyperinflation. It can also cause serious lung diseases with increasing years of use. Cannabis can weaken the immune system, leading to pneumonia. Smoking cannabis has been further linked with symptoms of chronic bronchitis. Heavy use of cannabis on its own can cause airway obstruction. Based on immuno-histopathological and epidemiological evidence, smoking cannabis poses a potential risk for developing lung cancer. At present, however, the association between smoking cannabis and the development of lung cancer is not decisive.

Keywords

Cannabis Cannabinoids Lung diseases Marijuana Respiratory health Respiratory risk 

Notes

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare no competing financial or otherwise interests in relation to this article.

References

  1. Aldington S, Williams M, Nowitz M, Weatherall M, Pritchard A, NcNaughton A, Robinson G, Beasley R (2007) Effects of cannabis on pulmonary structure, function and symptoms. Thorax 62:1058–1063CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  2. Barsky SH, Roth MD, Kleerup EC, Simmons M, Tashkin DP (1998) Histopathologic and molecular alterations in bronchial epithelium in habitual smokers of marijuana, cocaine and/or tobacco. J Natl Cancer Inst 90:1198–1200CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Biehl JR, Burnham EL (2015) Cannabis Smoking in 2015: a concern for lung health? Chest 148:596–606CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  4. Cadelis G, Ehret N (2015) Concomitant discovery of lung cancer and tuberculosis in a cannabis smoker. Rev Pneumol Clin 71:301–305CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Fligiel SEG, Roth MD, Kleerup EC, Barsky SH, Simmons MS, Tashkin DP (1997) Tracheobronchial histopathology in habitual smokers of cocaine, marijuana, and/or tobacco. Chest 112:319–326CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Hancox RJ, Poulton R, Ely M, Welch D, Taylor DR, Machlan CR, Greene JM, Moffitt TE, Caspi A, Sears MR (2010) Effects of cannabis on lung function: a population-based cohort study. Eur Respir J 35:42–47CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Imtiaz S, Shield KD, Roerecke M, Cheng J, Popova S, Kurdyak P, Fischer B, Rehm J (2016) The burden of disease attributable to cannabis use in Canada in 2012. Addiction 111:653–662CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Kreuter M, Nowak D, Rüther T, Hoch E, Thomasius R, Vogelberg C, Brockstedt M, Hellmann A, Gohlke H, Jany B, Loddenkemper R (2016) Cannabis – position paper of the German Respiratory Society (DGP). Pneumologie 70:87–97CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Lutchmansingh D, Pawar L, Savici D (2014) Legalizing Cannabis: a physician’s primer on the pulmonary effects of marijuana. Curr Res Care Rep 3:200–205CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Pletcher MJ, Vittinghoff E, Kalhan R, Richman J, Safford M, Sidney S, Lin F, Kertesz S (2012) Association between marijuana exposure and pulmonary function over 20 years. JAMA 307:173–181CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Roth MD, Arora A, Barsky SH, Kleerup EC, Simmons M, Tashkin DP (1998) Airway inflammation in young marijuana and tobacco smokers. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 157:928–937CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Shay AH, Choi R, Whittaker K, Salehi K, Kitchen CM, Tashkin DP, Roth MD, Baldwin GC (2003) Impairment of antimicrobial activity and nitric oxide production in alveolar macrophages from smokers of marijuana and cocaine. J Infect Dis 187:700–704CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Tashkin DP (2014) Increasing cannabis use: what we still need to know about its effects on the lung. Respirology 19:619–620CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Underner M, Urban T, Perriot J, de Chazeron I, Meurice JC (2014) Cannabis smoking and lung cancer. Rev Mal Respir 31:488–498CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Zhang LR, Morgenstern H, Greenland S, Chang SC, Lazarus P, Teare MD, Woll PJ, Orlow I, Cox B, Cannabis and Respiratory Disease Research Group of New Zealand, Brhane Y, Liu G, Hung RJ (2015) Cannabis smoking and lung cancer risk: pooled analysis in the International Lung Cancer Consortium. Int J Cancer 136:894–903CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Sleep MedicineHELIOS Clinic Wuppertal, Witten/Herdecke UniversityWuppertalGermany

Personalised recommendations