Vaping cannabis may put teens at a greater risk for developing symptoms of lung injury than those who smoke cigarettes, or marijuana, or who vape nicotine, according to a new study.
Adolescents were about twice as likely to report wheezing or whistling in the chest than those who used e-cigarettes or smoked, findings from the University of Michigan showed. The researchers also evaluated whether participants reported a dry cough at night that wasn’t linked to a temporary infection or sounded wheezy during exercise.
The findings challenge conventional wisdom that smoking cigarettes or vaping nicotine is the most harmful to the lungs, said Carol Boyd, the lead researcher and a professor at the university’s School of Nursing.
“Without a doubt, cigarettes and e-cigarettes are unhealthy and not good for lungs,” Boyd said in a statement on the university’s website. “However, vaping marijuana appears even worse.”
The researchers didn’t find that use of e-cigarettes or cigarettes led to more respiratory symptoms in the teens who participated in the study. They didn’t specify where the cannabis products were bought and whether they were legal.
Vaping devices have increasingly become a popular way to consume cannabis, including in the form of wax or oil. A wave of mysterious lung illnesses and deaths linked to vaping threw the industry into turmoil before the coronavirus pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eventually found a link to vitamin E acetate, which has been used as a cutting agent in e-liquids containing THC, the main active ingredient in marijuana — often in illicit products.
The University of Michigan study included thousands of adolescents ages 12 to 17 who self-reported symptoms in the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health Study. One limitation of the report is that it didn’t look at the co-use of vaping cannabis and cigarettes or e-cigarettes, the researchers said.
Michael R. Bloomberg, founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP, has campaigned and given money in support of a U.S. ban on flavored e-cigarettes and tobacco.