Marijuana can cause more harm to smokers than cigarettes alone.

A study published Tuesday in the journal Radiology found a higher rate of conditions including emphysema and airway inflammation. People who smoke marijuana than non-smokers and non-smokers Smoke only tobacco. About half of the 56 marijuana smokers whose chest scans were reviewed for the study had mucus plugging their airways, a condition that was less common among the 90 participants who did not smoke marijuana.

“There’s a public perception that marijuana is safe and that people think it’s safer than cigarettes,” said Giselle Revah, a radiologist at the Ottawa Hospital in Ontario who helped lead the study. “This study raises concerns that may not be true.”

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A fifth of Canadians over the age of 15 reported using marijuana in the past three months. A 2020 survey of 16,000 people by the Canadian Bureau of National Statistics. About 18 percent of Americans reported using marijuana at least once in the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2020, including one in three adults ages 18 to 25. They didn’t ask how the research was. Marijuana was consumed. A quarter of people over the age of 12 believed that smoking marijuana once or twice a week was very harmful, the study found.

Previous studies have shown that marijuana is more likely to be smoked unfiltered than tobacco, and that smokers inhale more smoke and hold it in their lungs longer. Bong smoke contains tiny pollutants that can linger indoors for up to 12 hours, according to a study published in JAMA Network Open in March.

Of the 56 marijuana smokers in the Ottawa study, 50 also smoked tobacco. Chest scans of tobacco-only smokers are part of the high-risk lung cancer screening program, which includes patients age 50 and older who have smoked for many years.

Albert Rizzo, chief medical officer of the American Lung Association, who was not involved in the study, said marijuana’s illegal status has long discouraged serious research into the effects of its use. Inhale any hot substance It can irritate the airways, among other health risks, he said.

“If you smoke cigarettes and marijuana, there may be an additive effect,” Dr. Rizzo said.

The authors of the study found that 64% of marijuana smokers and 42% of tobacco-only smokers had thickening and 23% of marijuana smokers and 6% of tobacco-only smokers had excess mucus accumulation.

Age-matched marijuana smokers had a higher rate of emphysema (93%) than tobacco-only smokers (67%), and emphysema, which is seen on imaging as small holes in the lung tissue, was more common in marijuana smokers, the study found. .

Write to Julie Wernau at julie.wernau@wsj.com

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