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Marijuana use linked to increased asthma risk in youth, says study: ‘Worrisome’ health implications

In recent times, concerns have emerged regarding a potential link between cannabis legalization and an increase in asthma cases among children and teens. A study conducted by the City University of New York (CUNY) revealed a connection between states where marijuana is legalized for recreational use and a slightly higher prevalence of asthma among teens compared to states where it remains illegal. The study, published in the journal Preventive Medicine in February 2024, analyzed data from the 2011-2019 National Survey on Children’s Health, including 227,451 U.S. children aged 17 and younger. The findings indicated a consistent positive relationship between the frequency of cannabis use and asthma prevalence in both youth and adults.

Renee Goodwin, a professor at CUNY School of Public Health and the study’s lead author, emphasized the significance of the study, stating that it is the first nationally representative examination of cannabis use and asthma in the U.S. The study revealed a dose-response relationship, and this connection persisted even after accounting for cigarette smoking. Interestingly, a stronger relationship was found between the frequency of blunt smoking (hollowed-out cigars filled with cannabis) and asthma.

Childhood asthma has historically been associated with exposure to secondhand smoke, and the study raises concerns about the potential respiratory health risks associated with cannabis use. With cannabis legalized in 24 states for recreational purposes, there is a need for increased awareness of the potential health risks, especially for individuals with asthma. The study also highlighted the lack of public health education on the risks of cannabis use, with commercialization and advertising contributing to a perception of it being risk-free. The study suggests that current cannabis products may pose a greater risk than those from decades ago due to higher THC concentrations and the use of chemically manufactured substances. Experts recommend increased awareness, education, and regulation to address the potential health implications of cannabis use, particularly in the context of asthma.

 

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