Let’s face it: if you want to have healthy lungs, don’t smoke. However, when it comes to marijuana’s effect on lung health, a simple fact is combined with a majorly complicated “but.” Lung cancer can be caused by excessive inhalation of smoke into your lungs. Smoke from a campfire or tobacco, even ashen plant particles getting into your lung cavity is risky. Although, this fact holds no standing when it comes to cannabis smokers. Is this an anomaly?
Well, it sort of is. There have been recent studies that prove regular cannabis users are just as likely to get lung cancer as your average person. Isn’t that weird, right? How is this even coming close to possible? We have the facts about the effects of smoking cannabis, and what you can do to ensure that your lungs stay healthy.
The Bizarre Truth About Weed Smoke
In 2017, it was researchers from Atlanta’s Emory University that analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. In their study, they concluded that those who smoked one joint a day for 20 years, didn’t show any extensive signs of lung damage or cancer tissue.
There were breathing tests that were used to measure airflow during exhalation to receive results. This test is called “Spirometry” in the world of medicine. There were even studies conducted in 2006 and 2014, that had concluded that smoking marijuana DID leave being tar residue in our lungs. Although, the risk of lung cancer remains very low despite that fact.
Why Don’t Weed Smokers Get Lung Cancer?
Researchers, scientists, and doctors are still confused on why smoke from cannabis isn’t linked directly to cancer. It has been noted for a while now, that smoke from marijuana has some of the cancer-causing toxins that are found in tobacco. THC (the primary psychoactive component in marijuana) is the reason why there is no presence of tumors in marijuana smokers. The Complutense University of Madrid, in Spain, conducted some research that proved that THC can make tumor cells destroy themselves in animals.
There has been no studies to prove the power of THC as a true tumor-terminator in humans. Fortunately, hope is seen in the testing of animals. In animals, THC both prevented and slowed down the progression and growth of cancerous tumors. In Germany, another study was conducted to examine the effects of cannabidiol (CBD) on cancer cells in the lungs. There was exciting results that proved CBD can prevent cancer from moving to different areas of the body, and prevents cancer cells from infecting other healthy body cells.
Authors even went far to as stating that clinical trials for the treatment of lung cancer, should be done with CBD. It is these findings that point to why smoke from cannabis doesn’t cause lung cancer. Is it possible for a substance to cause cancer, but at the same time, prevent it? Only in due time and persistent research will reveal it all.
Different Smoking types for Different Tasts
Everyone has a different preference when it comes to smoking marijuana. It could be pipes, water bongs, joints, and blunts that have been crowd-pleasing. Now that there are concentrates in the mix. there’s more for you to know about if you want to be conscious about how you inhale cannabis smoke. To protect your lungs, you need to know the pros and cons between various different methods of smoking.
The healthiest way to smoke cannabis is by vaporizer. A vaporizer won’t allow direct flame onto the herb, so you’ll be able to inhale cannabis smoke without inhaling hot plant particles.
Joints & Pipes
A shocking fact you will need to know, is that when you light up your lighter, it can reach to hot temperature of 3,590.6 degrees Fahrenheit (1,977 Celsius). Smoking a pre-roll, joint, or pipe means you are letting too much heat to your marijuana. You will literally inhale the hot, and ashes particles in less than one second after lighting of the herb, How ever using filter tips helps a bit.
The unfiltered, hot smoke is what will allow tar build-up and irritation. If you want to stay safe, try using a screen for your pipe or rolling up with all-natural rolling papers.
Water Pipes & Bongs
Bubblers, water pipes, and bongs all utilize cold water to cool down the herb, so that the ash and burnt plant particles are caught by the cool water, and aren’t going into your lungs to become tar.
However, ice and water won’t catch all the plant resin that is present in smoke. Look for bigger water bubbler etc. that put distance between you and the flame. Always add in ice if you want to keep it safer for your lungs.
Butane Hash Oil (BHO) is becoming increasingly popular. For optimal lung health, there are some things to note about dabbing:
Use Ice: Utilizing a torch heats up the smoke more than any other method. Try to cool it down with crushed ice or a water-based system.
Solvents Matter: Mostly, butane burns up and evaporates quite quickly once the torch touches the wax. Too much of gas, can irritate mucous membranes and cause headaches as you inhale. If you should find that BHO is uncomfortable, CO2 extractions will be much easier on the lungs.
4 Breathing Exercises to Clear Out the Smoke
These simple exercises will help keep your airways clean and eliminate toxins. It will even have an anti-stress benefit. In each exercise, posture is everything. Hunching your shoulders or slouching will prevent you from breathing deep. If you are sitting down, put your feet flat on the floor. Be aware to keep your back in straight posture with your chest open.
This technique is popular amongst anxiety, and insomnia sufferers. It will clear your lungs, making you feel relaxed and calm. Inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 7, and exhale for 8.
Deep Belly Breath Breathing
Focus on your breath, and make long, slow breaths for five seconds or as long as you feel comfortable. Imagine yourself inhaling air deep into your stomach. Focus on raising your chest and navel as you breathe in.
The Cleansing Breath Pranayama
Doing this breathing exercise comes from the abdominal muscles. You will need to stand up with your feet hip to width apart.
This breathing exercise should not be completed laying down. Breathe out using short contractions of your ab muscles for increased power. Be aware to always have your mouth relaxed open when doing this exercise.
Think of yourself expanding your diaphragm as you breathe in deeply and slowly. The diaphragm is lung muscle that is at the base of your lungs. Singers are known to exercise this muscle consistently to increase their lung capacity.
[Updated, originally published 21.2.2017]