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Health risks of cannabis under-estimated

A new report by the British Lung Foundation, ‘The Impact of Cannabis on your Lungs’, has revealed a concerning under-estimation by the general public of the health risks of smoking cannabis.

Research conducted for the report reveals that a third of the population wrongly believe that smoking cannabis does not harm their health.

Furthermore, 88% incorrectly believe that tobacco cigarettes are more harmful than cannabis ones – when actually the like for like risk of lung cancer is actually 20 times higher.

People that smoke cannabis tend to take deeper puffs and hold them for longer than when smoking tobacco cigarettes. According to the British Lung Foundation, someone smoking a cannabis cigarette can inhale four times as much tar as from a tobacco cigarette, and five times as much carbon monoxide.

The report reveals strong associations between smoking cannabis and many lung and respiratory illnesses, including tuberculosis, acute bronchitis and lung cancer. It is also strongly associated with suppression of the immune system and heart disease.

Cannabis has also been shown to increase chances of developing mental health problems such as schizophrenia.

Most people in the UK don’t use illegal drugs. However, of those that do, cannabis is the most commonly used. Latest figures show that 30% of 16-59 year-olds in England and Wales have used cannabis in their lifetimes.

The research undertaken by the British Lung Foundation found that young people are particularly unaware of the risks with almost 40% of the under-35s surveyed – the age group most likely to have smoked it – believing that cannabis was not harmful.

Concerned about drugs?

Visit FRANK for a wealth of information about drugs – including cannabis – and their effects.

Warwickshire residents can also access local advice and support services if they are worried about their own or someone else’s use of illegal substances. Visit our website for more information.

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