Smoking is one of our oldest pastimes, whether it’s cigarettes, pipes, cannabis or any other assortment of flora. It feels good and we’ve been doing it forever. But regardless of how cool you look (or feel) smoke is bad for your lungs.
Without sounding too much like a health PSA, the negative effects of smoking are true of smoke from cannabis, tobacco, barbeques, and summer brush fires.
When you inhale smoke, you’re inhaling a variety bag of organic and inorganic chemicals that, when condensed, form a sticky brown substance called tar. Some of that tar is exhaled or coughed back out, but some of it collects in your lungs, where it can cause lung cells to die.
Every frightening photograph you’ve ever seen of smokers’ lungs, that’s where those ugly black and brown colors come from: dead lung cells. And, according to the American Lung Association, marijuana smoke deposits four times more tar into your lungs than cigarettes do.
The ALA hypothesizes that this is because of the way cannabis is generally smoked; using methods where the consumer inhales more deeply and, unlike cigarettes, does not use a filter.
So why did this collection of studies by the International Lung Cancer Consortium find no link between smoking cannabis and lung cancer?
The Consortium collated the data from six different studies in four countries all over the globe, and all six suggested that marijuana use does not lead to lung cancer, which was far from the results the scientists expected.
Some experts believe it’s due to the rate of consumption. Yes, marijuana deposits more tar into your lungs per gram than cigarettes, but cigarettes tend to be smoked more habitually and in higher quantities. Few people are smoking the equivalent of a pack a day in marijuana.
But even with heavy cannabis use, studies still don’t show an increased chance of developing cancer. That might be because the THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids in marijuana could be destroying potential cancer cells faster than they can form.
Cannabis, cancer & you
Cannabis as a cancer treatment is still in the beginning stages of testing and study, but early results are promising.
Cannabis may slow the growth and spread of cancer cells – or even destroy them entirely.
More human trials are in the works, and for now medical experts tend to agree that cannabis is at the very least a safe treatment for cancer, if not a 100% proven effective one.
Bottom line, smoking is bad for your health. So is sugar, but no one is honestly suggesting that you should fear for your life every single time you eat a cupcake. All health decisions are about moderation, and mitigated risk.
Though more studies are emerging every day, the current consensus is that if you smoke a few times a week, don’t stress too much about tar. If you smoke more frequently, you may also be fine, but, like with almost anything, there is more risk associated with more frequency.
The same is true for caffeine, alcohol, sugar, carbs, etc…
And if you are terribly concerned, or feel safer waiting for more extensive research on the subject, there are lots of ways to consume cannabis without smoking it.