Cannabis users ‘have lungs of 80-year-olds’
London - The lungs of cannabis smokers in their 30s are so badly damaged they look like those of an 80-year-old, doctors have warned.
They say young adults are turning up to A&E with a severe new form of the respiratory disease emphysema after using the drug for less than ten years.
Some are in their 30s and in a few cases have lungs so badly damaged they are put on long-term oxygen therapy.
However one patient studied at Ysbyty Gwynedd hospital in Bangor even needs a lung transplant, a British Thoracic Society conference heard.
Dr Damian McKeon – a consultant in respiratory medicine at the hospital – studied eight patients who had smoked at least five joints a day. He said: “We are seeing young people on the wards with the lungs of 80-year-olds after less than a decade of smoking cannabis and tobacco.
“Our study was in a rural region of North Wales but we believe these cases may represent the tip of the iceberg.”
He added that cannabis is much stronger now than it was several decades ago, and the emergence of a severe new form of emphysema could leave people “struggling for breath for the rest of their life”.
The disease, in which the millions of tiny air sacs in the lungs are gradually damaged, usually occurs later in life after being caused by tobacco. However it is thought the cannabis-tobacco mixture found in joints is more damaging because it is often smoked without a filter.
Dr McKeon added there was an “urgent need” for a UK-wide study into the link between cannabis use and lung disease. - Daily Mail