Asthma is more common among US individuals who reported cannabis use in the past 30 days, with the odds of asthma being significantly even greater among individuals who reported cannabis use 20 to 30 days per month, according to a new study.

Researchers say that, until now, little was known about the use of cannabis among youth and its relationship with asthma. The findings by researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, City University of New York, and Children’s National Hospital at George Washington University are published in Preventive Medicine.

The study results show that the more frequent the use, the higher the likelihood of asthma, and there is little change after adjusting for cigarette use.

“With the growing use of cannabis across the US, understanding potential links between cannabis use and asthma is increasingly relevant to population health. This relationship is an emerging area and requires thorough collaborative investigation by experts in these fields,” says corresponding author Renee Goodwin, PhD, in the department of epidemiology at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health and Epidemiology at the City University of New York, in a release.

Data were drawn from the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health a representative, annual survey of 32,893 individuals aged 12 and older in the US. The researchers used regression modeling to examine the relationship between the frequency of any cannabis and/or blunt (ie, cannabis smoked in a hollowed-out cigar) use in the past 30 days among individuals with current asthma and adjusting further for demographics and current cigarette smoking.

Current asthma was more common among individuals who reported cannabis use in the past 30 days, relative to those who did not (10% versus 7.4%) The odds of asthma were significantly greater among individuals reporting cannabis use 20-30 days/month and blunt use 6-15 and 20-30 days/month, respectively, than in individuals without asthma. Overall, the prevalence of asthma was 7.4% in the sample.

“Our findings add a significant layer to the nascent body of research on potential harms associated with cannabis use by being the first to show a link between cannabis use in the community and respiratory health risks, specifically increased asthma prevalence. Examining asthma prevalence in both adolescents and adults helps to inform public health initiatives and policies geared towards mitigating its risks, and underscores the importance of understanding the interplay between cannabis use and respiratory health,” say the researchers in a release. 

The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health/National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

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