Regular marijuana use is associated with development of respiratory issues

1. Marijuana use is associated with increased cough and sputum production.

2. Limited data exists to assess the relationship between marijuana use and pulmonary function and obstructive lung disease.

Evidence Rating Level: 1 (Excellent)

Study Rundown: Rates of marijuana use continue to increase in the United States each year; yet, the health effects of smoking marijuana remain poorly understood. As smoking is known to have negative health effects regarding respiratory function, there has been increased research regarding the potential harms of marijuana use and respiratory symptoms. The authors of this study aimed to evaluate the association between marijuana use and respiratory symptoms, pulmonary function, and obstructive lung disease among adolescents and adults. Overall, regular marijuana use was found to be associated with the development of respiratory issues. This study had several limitations. When evaluating study bias, few studies were found to be at low risk of bias. Further, study methodology varied, resulting in limitations when comparing results across studies.

Click to read the study in Annals of Internal Medicine

Relevant Reading: Marijuana Use Associations with Pulmonary Symptoms and Function in Tobacco Smokers Enrolled in the Subpopulations and Intermediate Outcome Measures in COPD Study (SPIROMICS)

In-Depth [systematic review]: The authors of this study conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to evaluate the relationship between marijuana use and respiratory function. A total of 1265 abstracts were initially identified by review, of which 70 were selected for full text analysis. Four separate reviewers independently extracted data from the studies and evaluated study bias, and 22 studies were included in the final analysis. The results of the review suggested that marijuana use was associated with increased cough and sputum production when comparing pooled analyses of cross-sectional studies (RR, 4.37 [CI, 1.71 to 11.19] and RR, 3.40 [CI, 1.99 to 5.79], respectively). Similar associations were found between marijuana use and shortness of breath and wheezing. Although six studies did examine obstructive lung disease and marijuana use, the data was limited and not statistically significant.

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