Significant health risks come from smoking marijuana

Jim Surrell

Recently, marijuana has become a legal substance to obtain and consume in various states in the U.S.

Some people suggest that marijuana does not cause serious health problems. Nothing could be further from the truth.

It is reported that most of the intake of marijuana is from smoking and inhaling this drug. It is then rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream.

Because tobacco smoking causes nearly all lung cancer, we have to first look at the association of marijuana smoking and lung cancer.

In regard to cancer, the scientific medical literature and individual case studies show very strong evidence that marijuana does indeed cause lung cancer. Following are the results from just a few of these studies.

The following is from the medical journal, Cancer Causes and Control, reported in Oct. 2013.

A large study of 50,000 people in Sweden found that marijuana smoking doubled the risk of developing lung cancer over their long-term 40-year follow-up period.

A prominent study was reported in the European Respiratory Journal, published in Feb. 2008. This study found that the risk of lung cancer increased by 8 percent for each year of smoking marijuana.

In other words, if a person smokes marijuana for five years, they will increase their risk of developing lung cancer by 40 percent over the non-smoking population. The following quote from their journal is a summary of their findings.

“In conclusion, the results of the present study indicate that long-term marijuana use increases the risk of lung cancer in young adults.”

Regarding young adults, the following tragic case study of the death of a young man was reported in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology.

A 26-year-old man developed chest pain, facial swelling, lumps in his armpits and weight loss. Between the ages of 18 and 24 years, he smoked marijuana on a daily basis.

His medical tests confirmed that he had lung cancer, and it was proven that his lung cancer was caused from his smoking marijuana. Despite maximum medical treatment, this patient died at age 28.

It is now known that smoking marijuana dramatically increases the risk of lung cancer. We must now take a look at the various other serious mental and physical health risks from consuming marijuana, regardless of how people take it into their body.

People who choose to consume marijuana may do so by smoking, by inhaling marijuana vapors from a vaporizer, or by mixing the marijuana in food such as brownies, cookies or candy, or even brew it as tea.

Regardless of how a person consumes the marijuana, it rapidly enters the bloodstream. Following are both the short-term and long-term unhealthy and dangerous effects of consuming marijuana.

Short-term marijuana use problems and common short-term effects of marijuana will often include altered vision, altered sense of time, changes in mood, impaired body movement, difficulty with thinking and problem-solving, impaired memory, increased heart rate and difficulty breathing.

Of course, this leads to an overall inability to have normal mental or physical function, and of course, one should never drive after consuming marijuana.

Long-term marijuana use problems include significantly long-term effects, and long-term use has been linked to serious mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, potential suicidal thoughts, overall lower life satisfaction, overall poor mental and physical health. There are also often very serious negative job and personal relationship problems.

Bottom line: if people choose to consume marijuana, they are exposing themselves to very significant short- and long-term negative health effects.

These very serious health problems may include cancer, as well as numerous other substantial mental and physical health problems.

Make the personal choice not to use marijuana, and you will avoid these very significant potentially lifelong health problems.

Editor’s Note: 

Dr. Jim Surrell is a board-certified colorectal surgeon who has been in practice  for the past 20 plus years. He has authored many articles in various journals on topics related to his specialty of colorectal surgery and digestive health. He also speaks frequently to local, regional and
national public and professional groups.