Vaping is a trendy habit these days, especially among young adults. But there’s still a lot we don’t know about the health risks, especially when it comes to vaping cannabidiol (CBD), one of many medicinal compounds found in marijuana. A new study from the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center shows that vaping CBD is even worse for your lungs than vaping nicotine.
The study is the first to compare the effects of inhaling CBD and nicotine vapour on the lungs. The team, led by Yasmin Thanavala, PhD, of the Department of Immunology at the Roswell Park Cancer Center, tested two commercial vaping products: one with 50 mg/ml of CBD and one with 5.0% nicotine. They exposed human cells to both vapours for two weeks and found that the CBD vapour caused more lung damage than the nicotine vapour.
This means that vaping cannabis could not only hurt your lungs but also make you more likely to get respiratory infections, have a weak response to vaccines, or worsen existing lung problems.
The researchers found that the number and severity of focal lesions (tissue damage) in the lungs were greater after inhalation of CBD vapour than nicotine vapour. Inhalation of CBD vapour also resulted in greater inflammatory changes and higher oxidative stress in the lungs, with exposure to CBD vapour killing purified human neutrophils (immune system cells) at a higher rate than nicotine vapour.
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“Our findings suggest that vaping cannabis may not only cause significant lung injury but can also increase susceptibility to respiratory infections, lead to poor responses to prophylactic vaccinations or cause worsening of symptoms in patients with underlying pulmonary inflammatory disease,” Dr Thanavala said in a statement.
The great vape debate
While cannabis has proven health benefits in pain management, sleep, and relieving the symptoms of chemotherapy in cancer patients and in patients experiencing seizures, experts say the evidence about cannabis safety when delivered from vaping products is lacking.
Further research is needed to investigate the long-term effects on people who regularly vape CBD and nicotine and to evaluate the effects of vaping products that contain other types of cannabinoids, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component of cannabis.
However, these recent findings appear to be in line with previous ones in the field. Another study published in the journal JAMA Network Open found that vaping CBD led to a significant decrease in lung function compared to nicotine vaping. The CBD users also had higher levels of toxic chemicals in their blood and urine, including acrolein and formaldehyde, which can be harmful to the lungs.
The study underscores the importance of being mindful of the method used to ingest cannabis, either through vaping or smoking naturally, through edibles or tinctures.
Experts are now urging healthcare professionals to ask whether their patients vape and whether they vape nicotine or cannabis. With this information, they can provide more personalised care to their patients and help them make more informed decisions about their health, according to Roswell Park.
Vaping wave and big tobacco
It appears the vaping wave has taken on steroids over the last three to four years, with kids as young as 12 years old reportedly struggling with addiction problems in many developed countries, ABC reports.
Incredibly, more than 20% of all American high school students say they vape now, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Further global research conducted by the Australian National University (ANU) recently concluded that all forms of vaping “carry significant harms” for people of all ages.
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As more information comes to light about the recent vaping wave, it should come as no surprise that big tobacco is the one pulling the strings. Last week, The Guardian reported that British American Tobacco, the world’s biggest tobacco product manufacturer, had their “Responsible Vaping Australia” advertisements banned by Meta on Facebook, due to lack of funding disclosure.
According to The Guardian, a Meta spokesperson said:
“The advertisements were not intended to sell vaping products. Instead, they were aimed at promoting social issues related to vaping to Australians aged 18 and over.”
Adding, “social issues, electoral and political-related ads are held to a higher standard and required to include a ‘Paid for by’ disclaimer. We removed these ads for breaching social issues advertising policy because they did not include this disclaimer.”