As recreational pot continues to gain more attention in states across the country, more studies are focusing on its potential health risks. An argument that marijuana’s proponents have made for years — that weed is healthier than cigarettes — is now coming under fire.

A A new study He stated that smoking marijuana is more likely to cause some health problems than tobacco.

“Maybe it’s time to stop and think about what you’re doing to yourself,” said Dr. Scott Branman, a thoracic radiologist, in a new study published in the Radiological Society of North America.

That study reviewed lung scans of smokers and found that rates of emphysema, airway inflammation, and increased breast tissue were higher in marijuana smokers than in tobacco smokers. Emphysema is the third leading cause of death in America.

“Marijuana smoke is not only creating holes in the airways in the lungs, it’s also creating holes in them,” Branman explained. “It’s the first time we’re seeing these cavities form in the lungs. That’s irreversible damage in these people.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 20% of Americans have tried pot. The most widely used drug in America is still federally illegal.

Branman said what can hurt weed smokers is how they inhale: deeply, holding the smoke in the lungs longer.

“It’s going deep into the lungs and has the potential to stay there for a long time during those deep, long breaths,” he said.

And researchers are looking at something in the pot.

“There’s a carcinogen or chemical in marijuana smoke that we haven’t identified yet that we’re theorizing is damaging the lungs and creating these holes,” Branman added.

If you’re using marijuana for medical reasons, Brandman suggests talking to your doctor about other ways to use marijuana other than food or smoking.

some Health effects Marijuana has been studied for issues like brain development, high blood pressure, and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. However, according to Dr. Albert Rizzo, a pulmonologist and chief medical officer of the American Lung Association, “We don’t know the long-term effects of marijuana the way we do the long-term effects of tobacco.”

Tobacco smoke is also filtered, but marijuana smoke is not. Doctors say that all these factors lead to inflammation and irreversible damage.

“Anything you inhale that irritates the lungs is not going to be beneficial, so I recommend stopping,” Rizzo said. However, some users understand that they have a medical need.

“There is a public perception that marijuana is safe. This study shows that marijuana may be more harmful than people think,” said study co-author and cardiothoracic radiologist Dr. Giselle Revah.

ABC News contributed to this report.

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