Marijuana - Lungs Damaged Beyond Repair

By MrG · Jun 3, 2007 · ·
  1. MrG

    Sunday, 3 June 2007

    BBC News Website

    The holes in Samantha Wilson's lungs are getting bigger.

    There is no cure for her illness and if it continues to get worse it will eventually kill her.
    Samantha is 37 and has emphysema, a progressive condition normally associated with older people who have smoked tobacco regularly throughout their lives.
    Samantha's doctor, Dr Onn Min Kon, a consultant physician of respiratory medicine at St Mary's Hospital in London, believes her cannabis smoking may be to blame for her condition.
    Dr Kon said he had several other young patients who smoke cannabis and have lung diseases normally seen only in older tobacco smokers.
    He said: "I've got a collection of young people who have lungs that look like they're 65-year-olds."
    Such case studies have prompted Dr Kon to plan a study comparing the lungs of patients who smoke cannabis with those who smoke only tobacco.

    When Samantha, of Maida Vale, London, was diagnosed with emphysema at the age of 34 she had been smoking cannabis for 20 years.
    She had begun by smoking two joints a day, but was eventually smoking up to 10 a day.
    According to the latest figures from charity Action on Smoking and Health, the average tobacco smoker smokes between 13 and 14 cigarettes every day.
    Samantha believes she is living proof of the effects cannabis can have on lungs.
    She said: "If I don't stop smoking I won't be around much longer - there is no cure for emphysema, the holes in my lungs are getting bigger.
    "There should be adverts showing people like me."

    Dr Kon uses images of his patients' lungs to assess damage

    When smoked, cannabis produces many of the same chemicals as a tobacco cigarette, but may damage the airways to a greater extent.
    In a 2002 report, the British Lung Foundation estimated that three to four cannabis cigarettes a day were associated with the same amount of damage to the lungs as 20 or more tobacco cigarettes a day.
    So far though, it has been difficult to separate the effects of cannabis smoking from those of tobacco smoking in patients, as many users smoke both.

    In his study, Dr Kon will use lung function tests and CT scan pictures to look for lung damage.
    Such a study using CT scans has not been done before and Dr Kon said even people with apparently normal lung function could have problems, such as holes in their lungs, which would show up on these scans.
    He said these people may have no symptoms but could still have respiratory diseases.

    o.gif EMPHYSEMA
    Emphysema is a normal feature of ageing
    The alveoli, or small lung cells, become damaged
    The condition develops progressively, causing "holes" in the lungs
    The lungs lose their elasticity and breathing is difficult
    Smoking accelerates the ageing process in lungs
    In some people the damage becomes noticeable in their lifetime

    Previously the link between emphysema and cannabis smoking has been difficult to prove, and the risks are often overlooked by people, who are generally concerned only about lung cancer.
    Samantha said: "I'd never even heard of emphysema when I was diagnosed, and I don't think people know there is a risk of getting it."
    The British Lung Foundation also called for more awareness of the issue.
    A spokesperson said: "Research carried out by the British Lung Foundation found that smoking cannabis alone can cause severe lung damage. "It is vital that people are fully aware of the dangers so they can make an educated choice and know the risks fully."


    Possibly more to do with smoking joints with unfiltered tobacco than the mj.

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  1. Paracelsus
    Let's see what the planned study will show. Everyone should know that smoking anything isn't terribly healthy. With 10 joints a day for 20 years, the possibility of emphysema from cannabis use shouldn't be ignored.

    I know, many have smoked far more than that without any problems. But not every tobacco smoker gets lung cancer. You know what I mean. The possibility is there.
  2. grandbaby
    That is very heavy use. Obviously smoking ten cigarettes of anything per day is not going to be great for your lungs. Heavy mj smokers should probably consider use of a vapourizer and/or switching to oral consumption to offset problems that could be caused by smoke inhalation.

    Still, scare stories like this one are an annoyance, given that a) there's nothing scientific about the story — the connection between the patient's emphysema and her mj use is anecdotal at best and there's only one doctor interviewed, and b) it's loaded with emotional triggers ("holes in the lungs", "there is no cure and it will kill her") that mark it as an obviously one-sided page-filler. It's as biased as the link to the DEA website in Paracelsus' signature line ("alcohol prohibition DID work!").

    See also:
  3. Paracelsus
    Hey, that website's cool as hell. And alcohol prohibition DID work. Ask Al Capone ;)

    I agree that the story is biased, but I also think cannabis smoke is capable of causing emphysema and the like.
  4. darawk
    Smoking causing emphysema? No way! Who would've thought.
  5. stoneinfocus
    I´m intersted in the equationof 2 joint = 20 tobacoo cigarettes.

    and, yes, looking into my bong these times long ago, told me, that this cannot be particularlyl a good thing to do and have as a daily habit, not even a weeekly one.

    Then again, lunghs can take much.. see the Beduins in the Sahara, they all got dust lunghs and, of course, shortned life-spans, because of that and the remarkable big rib-cages of the rasatfarians are all due to emphysema, becaue nearly all of them have one, off the heavy weed-smoking.
  6. tayo
    swim thought 1 joint=5 cigs and has also heard somewhere it can take up to 5 years to replace the damaged lung cells, or at least grow new ones to compensate for the dead cells.

    about the rib cages, lung capacity will increase from smoking, because less cells require more surface area to extract the same amount of oxygen as before the smoking occurred to compensate for damaged parts of lungs.
  7. Trebor

    Is it not possible that the emphysema was cuased from the tobacco in joints?
  8. lulz
    It's irresponsible for the media to say things like this:

    Without mentioning that "cannabis cigarettes" in Britain contain 70 or 80 per cent TOBACCO. And that smoking four joints a day does so much damage to the lungs because it's the same as smoking four unfiltered cigarettes a day.

    The scientific evidence is that there is no established link between JUST marijuana and lung cancer:

    The danger to lungs is therefore yet another consequence of the war on drugs. If cannabis wasn't a product sold on the black market, it would be much cheaper, and people could afford to smoke joints of pure cannabis instead of having to mix it with tobacco.

    If damage to the lungs is such a big concern for the government, they could just subsidise the cost of vaporisers. It wouldn't be enouraging marijuana use, it would be harm prevention.
  9. =Mobius=
  10. lulz
    Apparently that's a spurious inference.

    And as you already know, polonium 210 is the radioactive substance used to kill Alexander Litvinenko.

    Aside from this fact, it's illuminating to look at why tobacco plants evolved to contain nicotine - because nicotine is a pesticide. It kills or paralyses most insects that try to eat the tobacco plant.

    Every single argument I've seen for why marijuana is more dangerous than tobacco has proven to be a load of hogwash.
  11. Nagognog2
    I'm waiting to find out that, in tiny print, it says she also smoked potassium hydroxide and did lines of asbestos.
  12. stoneinfocus
    One could have he worked at a working site, that would have done that job accomplished, without her smoking and snorting asbestos, uranium, polonium and radioactive iodine, before having her good-night joint.
  13. enquirewithin
    1 joint = 20 cigarettes sounds spurious but smoking a lot of cannabis/ hashish or marijuana 'joints' must be bad for your lungs. It would better if someone could study this objectively.
  14. Pondlife
    Given that the patient is from the UK, and would therefore have been using an illegal supply, who's to say what sort of adulterants there have been in what she's been smoking?

    Perhaps the "1 joint = 20 cigs" is correct, or maybe it's total rubbish; it's difficult to be sure. However, I'd be interested to see a proper study of people using legal cannabis (e.g. Dutch coffee shops).
  15. MrG
    Sure, stupid people. Very stupid people.

    And I thought that smoking was up their with your five portions of fresh fruit and vegetables a day.
  16. Nature Boy about no?

    This is an isolated case, I doubt there are many others "like me". If they make adverts for this they need to make adverts for everything. Emphysema is only likely to strike a small percentage of vulnerable people and they need to be smoking very heavily in order to develop the condition. Realistically I can't imagine even fairly heavy marijuana smoking for the average person would result in it.
  17. stoneinfocus
    In fact, they´re left stuoid, cause everybody is thinking of lung cancer as the main risk, and nearly no smoker could even spell "emphysema" corectyl or can imagine what it is...
    The main dangers aof smoking is, it´s ruining your ephitelia and heart, so in fact it ruins the whole cardio vasculas system in every way possible, then there´s the not too litle risk of developing chronic obstructive pneumonal disorders, which includes asthma, shortness of breath, and ultimatively emphysema, with higher risks of infections ad the whole she-bang, whilst lung cancer and throat cancer, cancers in the pharynx are just a tiny littel bonus residning in o.X%age of deadly smoke related deseases.

    When smoking 20 cigs/day, you have a chance of 50/50 of dying of soking or not.

    Swim was smoking about 3-8cigs a day and one or two cups in a bong after work amd was in a very good physical condition, much likely to be a hell of a lot better, than if he had smoked 20 tobacco cigs/day.

    In fact he was in a conditon, better than most amateru sportsmen, just of working and walking/jogging to his workingsite as a tiler/to friends every day.
  18. enquirewithin
    Everyone surely knows that some respiratory problems/ lung disease or heart problems are likely to occur eventually if they smoke tobacco enough and for long enough-- whether that's lung cancer or anything else. It does tell you in big letters on the packets in the UK!

    The real issue here is mixing cannabis with tobacco. If you take off the filter of something already known to be harmful, and add another ingredient which also may well be harmful, it must be bad for you!

    Many cigarette smokers have funny justifcations for their habit. "Did you hear about XXX who gave up smoking and died the next day?"
  19. Paracelsus
    Of course it is. And I am sure it was a contributing factor. But the cannabis surely has played a big role. If cannabis smoke really is ~4 times more harmful than tobacco smoke and British joints are 70-80% tobacco, then the cannabis would've played an about equal role in causing the emphysema compared with tobacco.

    Sadly, this doesn't stand only for smokers. You all know that alcohol lowers blood pressure, helps in food digestion, etc etc. So if one glass of wine per day is so beneficial, three bottles of wine per day are much better, right?

    Everybody is looking for excuses. There was an article in a newspaper one day which stated that tobacco smoke contains neuroprotectants which could prevent Parkinson's. Guess how happy all smokers were... Stupid people indeed.
  20. snapper
    Every substance carries a risk. Pick your poison and accept the risks you take. SWIM has been smoking cannabis for over 25 years, and SWIM is healthy, active, and does not get winded easily. SWIM used to smoke tobacco, and was far less healthy and always out of breath. SWIM felt a distinct difference between the two. SWIM can smoke a bunch of weed and work out with cardio and weightlifting with no decrease in performance. One cigarette and SWIM's performance suffers. Anecdotal, yes, but true for SWIM. This does not mean smoking is without health risks, but with tobacco it is far more likely... SWIM also wonders how much hash this chick smoked - some of the hash in Europe is heavily adulterated with all kinds of crap !
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