Shocking: Marijuana Could Actually Be Good For Our Lungs

Despite what we have been led to believe about smoke being inherently bad for our lungs, a new study shows that while this may be true for cigarettes, it’s not necessarily the case for marijuana. In fact, getting high could actually improve our lungs.

Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco followed more than 5,000 people for 20 years, tracking their smoking habits and lung health. What they found was a bit of a surprise: Smoking a joint a week for up to seven years doesn’t hurt lung function. Even more surprising though was this: Pot smokers’ lung function actually improves–at least if they’re not smoking a lot.

The findings were published in the recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association and touted the fact that those who smoked pot occasionally, meaning the equivalent of a joint a week for up to seven years, actually had some improvement in the function of their lungs. Why? That’s what we wanted to know. Apparently, the scientists believe that the stretching of the lungs when taking a deep inhale of weed was somehow good for these organs. Of course, that leaves more questions than it answers, like: Why isn’t taking a deep breath of a cigarette or even things like smog good for us too? Wouldn’t that same action also “stretch” out lungs?

They didn’t answer that, but they did say that not all pot smokers got a clean bill of lung health. Heavy marijuana usage, defined as more than 20 times a month for more than 10 years, saw a decline in lung capacity. Phew. For a moment, we were about to question every bit of health logic we’ve ever been taught.

Not that we’re advocating everyone to go out and get stoned by any means, but this study does provide some interesting facts for legalizing medical marijuana. Something that at least we can agree with Ron Paul on.




Share This Post:
    • Malcolm Kyle


      Federal researchers implanted several types of cancer, including leukemia and lung cancers, in mice, then treated them with cannabinoids (unique, active components found in marijuana). THC and other cannabinoids shrank tumors and increased the mice’s lifespans. Munson, AE et al. Antineoplastic Activity of Cannabinoids. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Sept. 1975. p. 597-602.


      In a 1994 study the government tried to suppress, federal researchers gave mice and rats massive doses of THC, looking for cancers or other signs of toxicity. The rodents given THC lived longer and had fewer cancers, “in a dose-dependent manner” (i.e. the more THC they got, the fewer tumors). NTP Technical Report On The Toxicology And Carcinogenesis Studies Of 1-Trans- Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol, CAS No. 1972-08-3, In F344/N Rats And B6C3F Mice, Gavage Studies. See also, “Medical Marijuana: Unpublished Federal Study Found THC-Treated Rats Lived Longer, Had Less Cancer,” AIDS Treatment News no. 263, Jan. 17, 1997.


      Researchers at the Kaiser-Permanente HMO, funded by NIDA, followed 65,000 patients for nearly a decade, comparing cancer rates among non-smokers, tobacco smokers, and marijuana smokers. Tobacco smokers had massively higher rates of lung cancer and other cancers. Marijuana smokers who didn’t also use tobacco had no increase in risk of tobacco-related cancers or of cancer risk overall. In fact their rates of lung and most other cancers were slightly lower than non-smokers, though the difference did not reach statistical significance. Sidney, S. et al. Marijuana Use and Cancer Incidence (California, United States). Cancer Causes and Control. Vol. 8. Sept. 1997, p. 722-728.


      Donald Tashkin, a UCLA researcher whose work is funded by NIDA, did a case-control study comparing 1,200 patients with lung, head and neck cancers to a matched group with no cancer. Even the heaviest marijuana smokers had no increased risk of cancer, and had somewhat lower cancer risk than non-smokers (tobacco smokers had a 20-fold increased Lung Cancer risk). Tashkin D. Marijuana Use and Lung Cancer: Results of a Case-Control Study. American Thoracic Society International Conference. May 23, 2006.


      In response to passage of California’s medical marijuana law, the White House had the Institute of Medicine (IOM) review the data on marijuana’s medical benefits and risks. The IOM concluded, “Nausea, appetite loss, pain and anxiety are all afflictions of wasting, and all can be mitigated by marijuana.” The report also added, “we acknowledge that there is no clear alternative for people suffering from chronic conditions that might be relieved by smoking marijuana, such as pain or AIDS wasting.” The government’s refusal to acknowledge this finding caused co-author John A. Benson to tell the New York Times that the government “loves to ignore our report … they would rather it never happened.” Joy, JE, Watson, SJ, and Benson, JA. Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base. National Academy Press. 1999. p. 159. See also, Harris, G. FDA Dismisses Medical Benefit From Marijuana. New York Times. Apr. 21, 2006