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Cannabis experts have taken to Reddit to bust some popular myths around the drug, including whether its healthier to ingest via a bong instead of smoking it and if it's healthier than smoking normal cigarettes.
The medicinal benefits of cannabis are widely known at this point and there has been a large change of perception around the plant in recent years, with some countries relaxing rules around its use. However, concerns remain around its effects on the lungs.
A group of affiliates at the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics, at The University of Sydney recently took to Reddit and addressed some of these concerns.
One of the most popular questions asked was what the effect marijuana itself had on the lungs.
"I've always heard that it's 'less bad than tobacco' but are we talking potentially negligible effects, or like 'you're 1% less like to get cancer, but you're still getting cancer'," wrote one user.
The affiliates replied: "Smoking anything is bad for your lungs. Vaping is better than smoking. Edibles are better than vaping (for your lungs).
"We don't really know enough about its effects on cancer/lung cancer. Cannabinoids seem to have some anti-cancer properties in controlled lab experiments but the real-world implications are unknown."
Another common question that cropped up was whether recreationally using cannabis through a bong was safer than smoking it. Let's face it, a lot of us have known someone at university who was an avid user of the 'erb but refused to smoke it in favour of bongs because they felt it was healthier. Unsurprisingly that is not true.
"Water pipes are not any less harmful than smoking a joint or a pipe of herbal cannabis. Vaporisation is the least harmful way to administer herbal cannabis by inhalation," the group advised.
Someone went on to ask just how healthy - or unhealthy vaping it might be - and the answer was lengthy, although ultimately boiled down to not really knowing as there isn't enough long-term data on it yet.
"Vaping is a relatively recent phenomenon, and it will likely be decades yet before we have high quality data on how vaping effects long-term lung health" they wrote.
"Inhaling anything other than air can be damaging for the lungs, but from what we know, vaping seems to be a much safer alternative to smoking due to the absence of toxic by-products that form when plant material is burned."
The warnings issued by the affiliates in the Reddit group are echoed by the American Lung Association - largely that any smoke is harmful to lungs due to the toxins it contains, while they also point out marijuana smokers will often inhale for longer and hold their breath as opposed to cigarette smokers.
Similarly they say that not much yet is known about the effects of vaping it.
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