A study suggests that vaping cannabis-derived vapor products may damage a human’s lungs more than smoking or vaping nicotine-containing substances.

Researchers at the University of Michigan found that severe lung injuries were associated more with the action of vaping cannabis-derived products rather than cigarettes and vape products that contain nicotine. The researchers published their findings in the academic Journal of Adolescent Health which will enter official print in the coming months.

“I thought that e-cigarettes (vaping nicotine) would be the nicotine product most strongly associated with worrisome respiratory symptoms,” said Carol Boyd, the study’s principal investigator and the Deborah J. Oakley Collegiate Professor Emerita at the University of Michigan’s School of Nursing. “Our data challenges the assumption that smoking cigarettes or vaping nicotine is the most harmful to the lungs. If we control for vaping cannabis in our analyses, we find there is a weaker relationship between e-cigarette or cigarette use and respiratory symptoms when compared to vaping cannabis.”

According to a press statement, Boyd also co-directs the university’s Center for Drugs, Alcohol, Smoking, and Health. She noted that even though the findings show that marijuana cannabis products were linked to the outcome, vaping nicotine and smoking cigarettes are still relatively harmful to their health. All of these products also “produce symptoms of lung injury, but not to the same degree as vaping marijuana,” she said.

“In short, it is all bad, but if you also vape cannabis, you have a greater number of unhealthy respiratory symptoms than if you just smoke cigarettes or marijuana or vape e-cigarettes,” Boyd said. “Without a doubt, cigarettes and e-cigarettes are unhealthy and not good for lungs. However, vaping marijuana appears even worse.”

Considering the impact of these statements provides a wide-ranging scope of harm reduction characteristics associated with nicotine use over marijuana. A press statement from Eureka Alert also noted that the study found that an asthma diagnosis was “most strongly associated with symptoms of future lung injury than cigarettes, e-cigarettes, cannabis use, and vaping cannabis.” One of the study’s noteworthy limitations is that researchers left out co-use of vaping cannabis and the use of tobacco cigarettes and electronic cigarettes, and vapor products that include nicotine.

“The odds of indicating “wheezing or whistling” in the chest were roughly two times higher among those who had used cannabis in ENDS (adjusted odds ratio 1.81, 95% confidence interval 1.47–2.22); neither e-cigarettes nor cigarettes had a significant association with all five respiratory symptoms in the fully adjusted models,” reports the study’s findings.
The researchers go on to conclude that the research “provides preliminary evidence that adolescents’ cannabis use with ENDS may have negative health consequences.” “Lifetime cannabis use with ENDS was substantially associated with higher odds of respiratory symptoms,” adds the study.

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