The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog is intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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    Lung emphysema in marijuana smokers

    Most people with emphysema are older men.

    Marijuana abuse should be considered as a reason for development of emphysema in young people, according to researchers from University Hospital Berne, in Switzerland.

    First, the details.

    • Researchers reviewed the medical records of 17 young patients (group 1; 16 male, age 19-43 years old) with spontaneous pneumothorax and bullous lung emphysema who were systematically evaluated over 30 months.
      • Pneumothorax is the accumulation of air around the lung, leading to collapse of the lung.
      • In severe emphysema, the presence of bullae impair breathing, diminish the ability to exercise, and can cause acute respiratory distress.
    • All were regular marijuana smokers.
    • Their medical findings were compared to non-marijuana smokers (group 2), and other patients (group 3) with pneumothorax.

    And, the results.

    • All but 1 patient in group 1 smoked marijuana daily for about 9 years and tobacco for 12 years.
    • They had severe lung emphysema and inflammation with bullae.
    • The presence of lung emphysema in group 1 was significantly different from groups 2 and 3.
    • There were no significant differences among the groups in clinical, laboratory, and histopathological (lung tissue) findings.

    The bottom line?
    The authors concluded, “The period of marijuana smoking seems to play an important role in the development of lung emphysema. This obviously quite frequent condition in young and so far asymptomatic patients will have medical, financial, and ethical impact, as some of these patients may be severely handicapped or even become lung transplant candidates in the future.”

    5/1/08 11:45 JR

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