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Learn | 05.28.2024

How To Keep Your Lungs Healthy As A Weed Smoker

Strategies to minimize cannabis smoke risks.

Ever wondered if you can keep up the puff, puff, pass tradition without sacrificing lung health?

It’s a tricky balance.

Any kind of smoke, including cannabis smoke, is harmful to your lungs.

The safest route to sidestep these risks is by opting for alternatives like edibles or tinctures. But, if you’re set on smoking cannabis, there are strategies to minimize the impact on your lungs.

Let’s start by understanding what’s really in cannabis smoke and what it means for your lung health.

The Truth About Cannabis Smoke

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Cannabis smoke hosts several irritants and carcinogenic compounds, similar to tobacco smoke.

Some of these include:

  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) – Compounds like benzopyrene and bezanthracene, also found in vehicle exhausts, coal tar, and grilled meat.

  • Carbon monoxide – This gas reduces the blood’s oxygen-carrying capacity and is linked to respiratory issues.

  • Tar – Cannabis smoke is rich in tar, a sticky, cancer-causing residue harmful to lung tissue.

  • Ammonia – Irritates the lungs and respiratory tract; high levels found in cannabis smoke.

Compared to tobacco, cannabis smokers tend to inhale deeper, and they hold the smoke in their lungs much longer to help increase the effects, which can increase the risk of exposure to these harmful chemicals.

Many cannabis smokers also smoke their joints down to the very end. As the joint burns down, tar and other carcinogenic substances get more concentrated, making the last few puffs very rich in these harmful chemicals.

Lung Health Risks for Regular Weed Smokers

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Can You Get Lung Cancer From Smoking Weed?

It might be possible to develop lung cancer from regularly smoking cannabis.

Researchers tracked the impact of smoking cannabis over 40 years among nearly 50,000 young adult men. Results indicated that regular cannabis smokers more than doubled the risk of developing lung cancer. Another study revealed that in adults under 55, smoking one joint a day for a year saw an 8% increase in lung cancer risk.

While more studies are undoubtedly needed to solidify the connection, the current research points the finger toward regular cannabis smoking as a potential risk factor for lung cancer.

Beyond lung cancer, regular weed smokers may face other long-term health issues, like:

  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Persistent coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Asthma attacks
  • Increased phlegm production
  • Wheezing
  • Elevated blood pressure

It’s also been noted that clinical practices frequently observe bullous lung disease – a condition where large air sacs are present in the lungs – in regular cannabis smokers. More published studies are needed to confirm this association.

How to Keep Lungs Healthy As A Weed Smoker

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Where there’s smoke, there’s harm, especially to your lungs if inhaled.

If you’re not ready to give up your sessions but want to puff smarter, consider these lung-friendly tips:

Use a water pipe or bong – Smoking out of a water pipe or bong where a water reservoir can filter and cool the smoke before being inhaled might help reduce exposure risk.

Add filters to joints – Filters are small pieces of paper or cardboard placed at the end of a joint to help filter toxic particles like ash and tar. Choose natural materials and avoid coated materials, which can leach harmful chemicals.

Try edibles or tinctures – These smoking alternatives completely get rid of the risks associated with smoking cannabis.

Take smaller hits – No one’s handing out awards for lung capacity here. Take smaller puffs and exhale quickly. Some users try to hold their breath to increase their high potency – but this just increases the toxins marinating in your lungs.

Do not mix cannabis with tobacco – Some smokers mix together cannabis and tobacco, which significantly increases health risks than smoking either alone.

Regular exercise and breathing techniques – Engage in regular cardiovascular activities like walking, running, weight lifting, or playing sports to help boost lung capacity. Daily deep breathing exercises can also help strengthen your lungs and overall respiratory health.

Stay hydrated – Drinking plenty of water may help thin out built-up mucus in your lungs that developed from regularly smoking.

Lung function test – Taking a lung function test can help you understand the health status of your lungs. These tests will also help monitor and diagnose potential lung diseases or general damage from exposure to weed smoking.

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