The use of both e-cigarettes and marijuana is rapidly growing, due to the widespread belief that they are relatively safe compared with traditional tobacco products. Marketing has reinforced this belief despite the fact that these “alternatives” can also have multiple harmful effects on health. Since even many parents perceive e-cigarettes and marijuana as safe, researchers were wondering: what does this say about their lifestyle in general?
By Dilani Wanasinghe
E-cigarette and marijuana use has risen dramatically, and now reaches the level of an epidemic. The subsequent public health threat is worsened by the fact that e-cigarettes and marijuana can be gateway substances, meaning they may lead users to more severe drug use and/or abuse in the future. Although advertised as safe alternatives to tobacco products, both e-cigarettes and marijuana have significant negative health consequences.
E-cigarettes have been associated with fatal lung injury and inflammation, whereas long-term use of marijuana can lead to attention deficits and memory impairment. The use of these products during pregnancy is especially concerning, as these substances may be harmful to the fetus. Nevertheless, many pregnant women perceive e-cigarettes and marijuana to be a safer alternative to tobacco products.
It is known that adults who use harmful substances like tobacco or illegal drugs commonly engage in unhealthy behaviors, such as low levels of exercise. But would the opposite also hold true? If parents perceive e-cigarettes and marijuana as safer, would they show other healthier behaviors, like exercising more?
In a recent article published in the Journal of Perinatal Medicine, researchers looked at associated lifestyle characteristics among different parental groups. They divided a population of parents into four groups: exclusive e-cigarette or marijuana use, use of tobacco products, a combination of the above, or none of the above. Like non-users, parents who were e-cigarette or marijuana users did not identify as smokers. Interestingly, e-cigarette users were the healthiest of the groups who used one of these products, exercising at a similar rate to non-users. Marijuana users did not exercise as much as e-cigarette users, but more than tobacco users.
These findings highlight that e-cigarettes and marijuana may be part of a perceived healthier lifestyle. Because these “healthy parents” using e-cigarettes and marijuana do not identify as smokers, physicians should specifically ask parents about their use of these substances to better address potential negative health effects. As certain US states debate marijuana legalization and the federal government considers taking action to curb e-cigarette use, educational initiatives should raise awareness of the potential harms surrounding parental use of e-cigarettes and marijuana.
To find out more, read the original article here:
Dilani Wanasinghe, Shetal Shah, Amruta Bamanikar, David Aboudi, Soumya Mikkilineni, Olivia Shyong, Natasha Wu, Tessa Lavan and Heather L. Brumberg: Lifestyle characteristics of parental electronic cigarette and marijuana users: healthy or not? 19.12.2019.