You may have heard yesterday about new research showing that marijuana use doesn't appear to cause lung damage. The study, which involved data from more than 5,000 people over a 20-year period, may be reassuring to some (and may prompt more than a few Cheech & Chong jokes), but - as study author Stephen Sidney, MD, MPH, notes in the San Francisco Chronicle today - the results "shouldn't be interpreted as marijuana is totally harmless." One of our experts also weighed in:
Dr. Stephen Ruoss, a Stanford pulmonologist who was not involved with the study, was quick to note that while the results may show that smoking pot isn't terrible for the lungs, that's hardly a robust endorsement for getting stoned.
"If you inhale the smoke of a combustible organic material - either tobacco leaf or marijuana leaf - is that a good thing for your lungs? The safe answer is no," Ruoss said. "The hunch is that the more you smoke, the greater the detrimental effect on your lung function. Even with marijuana."