New research finds that smoking three or four marijuana cigarettes a week for six years could harm lung function and destroy antioxidants that protect cells against heart disease and cancer, Reuters reported Dec. 5.
“Smoking cannabis on a regular basis actually depletes your lung of protective antioxidant substances and this may have chronic long-term implications for young individuals,” said Dr. Sarah Nuttall of the University of Birmingham in England.
The study involved a group of 20 people ages 19 to 30 who were either nonsmokers, cigarette smokers, and/or marijuana users. Researchers took blood samples, conducted lung function measurements, and tested for antioxidant markers.
“We found that smokers, compared to nonsmokers, had impaired lung function,” Nuttall said.
Nuttall said that when compared to nonsmokers, marijuana addiction and smokers had substantially lower levels of a protective antioxidant and nitric oxide, which is linked to lung function.
“These findings are important in young individuals in which the use of cannabis is increasing and may have serious long-term implications for what is currently regarded as a relatively harmless recreational habit,” she said.
The study’s findings were presented at a meeting of the British Thoracic Society held recently in London, England.