Cannabis smokers at higher risk of fungal infections, new study shows

May 13, 2020
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A study published on Wednesday by the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has revealed that people who smoked cannabis had a slightly higher risk of fungal infections than those who didn’t

In the new report, CDC researchers looked at 2016 health data from around 27 million people in an IBM database and scanned it to see if there was a link between cannabis use and fungal infections.

They found 40 of the 53,000 people who used cannabis developed a fungal infection in 2016 — roughly 0.07% of them. By comparison 6,294 of the 21 million non-cannabis users contracting a fungal infection (or, 0.02%).

The likelihood was extremely low across the board, but the CDC issued a report on their findings, warning that, proportionally, fungal infections were more 3.5 times common among cannabis users.

The researchers said that marginally increased risk is still cause for concern because of the potentially deadly nature of fungal and mold infections, and existing evidence that cannabis is susceptible to fungus growth.

They also found that cannabis users who had fungal infections tended to be younger than those who didn’t use cannabis but had fungal infections. The median age for a cannabis user with a fungal infection was 41.5, but for non-smokers it was 56.

Fungal infections can range from mild to severe, but for immunocompromised people who have HIV, underwent chemotherapy, or have other conditions that weaken their immune response, the infections can be life-threatening, according to the CDC.

For normally healthy people, a fungal infection can lead to a rash, allergies, or asthma, but in more severe instances, it can cause pneumonia, meningitis, and bloodstream infections.

While the researchers couldn’t determine if cannabis use caused the subjects’ fungal, they said evidence shows that cannabis plants are susceptible to fungus and mold growth.

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