Study Reveals Link Between Cannabis Use and Current Asthma Prevalence in U.S. Adolescents and Adults

January 29, 2024

Asthma is more common among U.S. 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 by researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, City University of New York, and Children’s National Hospital at George Washington University. Until now little was known about the use of cannabis among youth and its relationship with asthma. The findings are published in the journal Preventive Medicine.

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

“With the growing use of cannabis across the U.S., 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,” said 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.

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 United States. The researchers used regression modeling to examine the relationship between the frequency of any cannabis and/or blunt (i.e., cannabis smoked in a hollowed-out cigar) use in the past 30 days among individuals with current asthma. They adjusted the results 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 (10.0 percent vs. 7.4 percent.) 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 percent in the sample.

Says Goodwin: “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.”

Co-authors are Chaoqun Zhou, Columbia University; Kevin D. Silverman, City University of New York; Deepa Rastogi, Albert Einstein College of Medicine; and Luisa N. Borrell, City College of New York.

The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health/National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (grant 1R21HL149773-01).

Media Contact

Stephanie Berger, sb2247@cumc.columbia.edu