Public opinion and local and federal policies about the therapeutic effects and safety of cannabis are slowly changing now that states across the country are moving to decriminalize cannabis for medicinal and recreational purposes. Marijuana is quickly overtaking all other substances and narcotics, leading many to question the impact of smoking marijuana daily on the body.
Much of the public is well aware of the dangers of smoking, especially tobacco, nicotine, and tar-based substances. But if smoking is so bad for the body, what about cannabis? Smoking is not the only way to use cannabis. Yet, it remains the most convenient and popularized way to use cannabis.
Marijuana is one of the most smoked substances around the world. Yet, more research is necessary to determine the full extent of how smoking marijuana impacts daily users. So if you’re wondering if it’s time to break up your everyday love affair with cannabis, keep reading to learn the facts about smoking weed daily on the body.
Smoking is an act that burns substances and converts them into inhalable smoke or cloudy vapor. Smoke compromises the health and function of every organ inside the body, including the brain. While much of the public is aware of the dangers of smoke inhalation on the lungs, new scientific evidence suggests that the effects of smoking are more immediate¹ and detrimental than previously thought.
Smoking is not specific to nicotine and tobacco products. Many people religiously smoke herbs and cannabis every day. But, unlike traditional smoking, these substances are natural and contain little to no carcinogens and combustible toxins.
Cannabis is a plant widely used for medicinal treatments with minimal side effects. Smoking is not necessarily the safest way to use marijuana, as many alternative methods are available. But compared to the harmful effects of tobacco, nicotine, and other manufactured smoking products, the impact of smoking marijuana daily on the body is hard to ignore.
Below are some of the more widely known effects of cannabis on the human body.
DNA: Smoke alters the DNA and gene expression, causing an increase in erroneous and abnormal cellular activity, most notably cancerous cell growth. The American Cancer Society estimates that 30 percent of all cancer-related deaths in the country are attributed to smoking. Cancerous tissue growth significantly impacts the lungs due to smoke inhalation. However, the following areas of the body are also damaged and prone to cancer from smoking activity.
Smoke inhalation elevates the risk of cardiac issues and disease. The heart is a critical component of the cardiovascular system. There are also many smaller parts, primarily the vessels that make up the vascular/circulatory systems, that are equally important to the overall health and function of the body.
Smoking inhalation damages these structures, causing plaque buildup inside the arteries and narrowing of the blood vessels, increasing the risk of clots and blockages due to insufficient blood flow. This condition is commonly referred to as atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis can lead to hypertension, high blood pressure, and an elevated heart rate from regular smoke exposure. The dangers associated with long-term smoking on the cardiac and vascular systems include coronary disease, blood clots and embolisms, and heart attacks.
Smoke deprives the blood of much-needed oxygen and nutrients and increases the amount of carbon monoxide and toxins, causing the organs to work harder and less efficiently. Additional health risks are common when combined with the effects of low physical activity, less than optimal health, and proper dietary considerations.
Smoking is terrible for bone growth and development. Not only does it reduce bone density, causing bones to become weaker and more susceptible to breaks and fractures. Smoking also causes healing impairments.
Many long–time smokers end up with osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is also a primary concern for women due to hormonal irregularities and aging, putting those who smoke at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis than their male counterparts.
Smoking is damaging to the oral cavity and teeth. It irritates and dries the gums and moist membranes of the mouth and throat. Dry mouth, halitosis, discolored teeth, tongue soreness, taste disruption, and inflammation are common side effects of smoking.
Smoking introduces substances to the body that lowers overall immunity, trigger inflammation, and increase vulnerability to infections and diseases. Lower immune defenses mean less protection against diseases and autoimmune disorders like diabetes, ulcerative colitis, etc.
Smoking destroys the tissues in the airways and lungs, causing excess mucus, congestion, inflammation, and irritation. Smoking is associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic bronchitis, emphysema, pneumonia, tuberculosis, asthma, and allergies.
The lungs are among the last organs to show the cumulative effects of smoking, and symptoms often take years to show up. This is a significant reason why lung diseases and cancers are often fatal, and it also highlights how difficult it is to diagnose smoking-related lung conditions until the advanced stages.
There’s growing evidence that smoking has a negative effect on the reproductive system². The dangers of the male and female reproductive systems increase with long-term use but include higher infertility rates, impotence, and sexual dysfunction.
Stereotypes link smoking to stringy, thin, dry, oily hair, brittle and short, broken or yellow nails, and dull and worn skin. Smoking stresses the body, causing it to work harder, and speeds up aging.
Smoke inhalation and exposure robs the skin and hair of oxygen and nutrients, prevents proper blood flow, and decreases the efficiency of its restoration cycles. Smokers are more susceptible to skin irritations and conditions like chronic dryness, eczema, and psoriasis.
Many risks related to smoking are cumulative and substance dependent. That means using certain products either increases or lowers the impact of smoking on the body. Tar-based smoking products contain hundreds of harmful and toxic ingredients that become even more toxic when burned and inhaled. Out of the thousands of toxic chemicals commonly found in smokable tobacco products, 69 are known to cause cancer, states the National Cancer Institute.
Moreover, a ton of research highlights the various direct and indirect correlations between the act of smoking, primarily when other more toxic substances are used, like tobacco. There are even risks involved with smoking cannabis when harmful and toxic products like rolling papers are used.
But, when it comes to weed, there’s no direct evidence linking marijuana to the dangers long associated with smoking tobacco and nicotine. Marijuana is a medicinal substance that effectively counteracts many of the side effects caused by tar and tobacco-based substances. Yet, cannabis remains a federally illegal substance, while tobacco and nicotine products have no scientifically proven medicinal value and are mass marketed to millions.
It’s no secret that cannabis is one of nature’s most medicinal plants. Yet, much of its popularity is due to negative connotations associated with its reported side effects. The effects of cannabis are temporary and easily manageable with the proper knowledge and dosing conventions.
How cannabis affects users depends on various factors, including age, health, and cannabis profile. The most common side effects experienced by some daily users include the following:
These concerns don’t happen to everyone who uses marijuana; they are often immediate and can last up to two to three hours after smoking. For some, long-term, daily use can lead to tolerance and addiction issues. In most cases, the effects of smoking marijuana daily on the body are reversible. However, cessation remains the only way for users to avoid the dangers of smoking altogether.
Many users find vaping with pens, bongs, and other cannabis paraphernalia safer and more convenient. Besides the potential temporary risks of cannabis, more research is necessary to determine its long-term impact on the body. As unpleasant as the adverse effects of using cannabis might seem, they pale compared to the positive and therapeutic impact on the mind and body.
The effects of secondhand marijuana smoke exposure are minuscule. However, they increase when confined spaces and excess smoke vapor are involved. Many users and nonsmokers find the odor of burning cannabis flower and smokable goods offensive. Still, the impact of secondhand cannabis smoke is reportedly mild but presents no danger or long-term risks to nonsmokers or users.
However, users who prefer to continue using cannabis should consider different methods instead of smoking or vaping. Consuming lower dosages is also highly beneficial.
If you have questions about whether medical marijuana is right for you, contact one of our knowledgeable cannabis doctors today to discuss concerns and potential risks.
Feel free to check out the MedicalMarijuanaDoctors blog for more medical cannabis tips and news.