A new study from the City University of New York (CUNY) has found a link between marijuana use and asthma among young people in the United States. The study, published in the journal Preventive Medicine, showed that the prevalence of asthma was higher among youth who reported using marijuana in the past month, compared to those who did not. The study also found that the risk of asthma increased with the frequency of marijuana use among the youth.
The study analyzed data from the 2011-2019 National Survey on Children’s Health, which included a representative sample of 227,451 U.S. children aged 17 and younger, with an average age of 8.56. The study focused on the states where marijuana was legalized for recreational use, which were 24 as of 2023.
The study found that the prevalence of asthma among youth who used marijuana in the past month was 9.2%, compared to 7.7% among those who did not. The study also found that the prevalence of asthma increased with the frequency of marijuana use, from 8.3% among those who used it once or twice, to 10.6% among those who used it more than 10 times.
The study controlled for other factors that could affect the risk of asthma, such as sex, race, ethnicity, cigarette smoking, and state-level cannabis laws. The study also adjusted for the potential effects of blunt smoking, which is the practice of filling a hollowed-out cigar with marijuana. The study found that blunt smoking was also associated with a higher risk of asthma, and that the relationship between marijuana use and asthma was not explained by blunt smoking.
Marijuana Use and Asthma: A Potential Public Health Concern
The study’s lead author, Renee Goodwin, a professor at the CUNY School of Public Health, said that the study was the first nationally representative study of marijuana use and asthma in the U.S. She said that the study showed a consistent and positive linear relationship between marijuana use and asthma among both youth and adults, and that the relationship was not explained by confounding cigarette smoking.
Goodwin said that the study’s findings had important implications for public health, as asthma is a common and chronic respiratory condition that affects millions of children in the U.S. She said that asthma can cause symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath, and can lead to complications such as hospitalizations, emergency room visits, and even death.
Goodwin said that there was very little information available on the impact of marijuana use and exposure to secondhand marijuana smoke on respiratory and lung health. She said that it took decades for the public to receive information on the effects of cigarette smoking and exposure to secondhand cigarette smoke, and that the public should be aware of the potential risks of marijuana use and exposure, especially for children and adolescents.
Marijuana Use and Asthma: A Need for More Research and Education
Goodwin said that the study’s findings suggested a need for more research and education on the potential health effects of marijuana use and exposure. She said that the public should consider that smoking marijuana may have health risks similar to those of smoking cigarettes, especially for people with asthma. She said that just because there was no public health education on the health effects of marijuana use did not mean that they did not exist.
Goodwin also said that the public should be cautious about the commercialization and advertising of marijuana use by cannabis companies and state and local governments, which may lead people to believe that marijuana use was risk-free. She said that this was not based on science or any data on long-term outcomes. She said that the public should make informed decisions about marijuana use and exposure, and that the public health and clinical research community should provide more evidence and guidance on this issue.
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