An interesting and slightly bizarre story last week (behind a bit on this one, meant to post about it, then forgot).
Scientists, using stem cells, successfully grew a pair of human lungs, using one “stripped down” lung of collagen as a “scaffold.” They then painted the scaffold with cells from another lung (these lungs were harvested from children who likely were killed in a traffic accident), and grew a functioning lung.
“In terms of different cell types, the lung is probably the most complex of all organs – the cells near the entrance are very different from those deep in the lung,” UTMB researcher Dr. Joaquin Cortiella said.
“People ask us why we’re doing the lung, because it’s so hard. But the potential is so great, and the technology is here. It’s going to take time, but I think we’re going to create a system that works.”
This story specifically mentions that perhaps lungs can be grown for people with cystic fibrosis or COPD, but that transplants using grown lungs might be as far as 12 years away because of the need for considerable more testing (such as transplanting grown lungs in the bodies of animals to make sure they function.)
The study followed 5,115 regular pot smokers over the course of 20 years.
This reminds me very much of a study done about 5 years ago showing that even chronic pot use doesn’t appear to lead to an increased risk of lung cancer.
“We hypothesized that there would be a positive association between marijuana use and lung cancer, and that the association would be more positive with heavier use,” the study’s lead researcher, Dr.Donald Tashkin of the University of California at Los Angeles stated. “What we found instead was no association at all, and even a suggestion of some protective effect” among marijuana smokers who had lower incidences of cancer compared to non-users.
So what’s going on here? Why is tobacco smoke so unhealthy and pot smoke apparently does minimal damage (though the article does point out that some studies have shown an increase in bronchitis and chronic coughs in pot smokers).
In any case, every major study on the issue has consistently shown that pot is considerably less dangerous to the lungs and heart than tobacco (not getting into whatever cognative damage chronic pot use might cause. When it comes to lung and heart, tobacco is far, far, far worse). Not to mention the difference of physical addiction between nicotine and THC. I quit smoking dope 20 years ago and it was the easiest thing I’ve ever done. No night sweats, no cravings, nothing. Why one continues to be illegal and the other legal continues to mystify me. And there doesn’t appear to be a lot of political will out there for legalizing dope.
Pot smoke actually has some of the same toxins as cigarette smoke, but in different doses. One theory is that additives in cigarette smoke are making cigarettes so deadly, but I’m dubious of that one. People were dying of smoking in the 1930s long before the tobacco companies were pumping additives into their tobacco. Another theory is that tobacco smoke is ingested more deeply, but I’m dubious of that one, too, because pot smoke is ingested pretty deeply into the lungs.
I have a theory that lung cancer (forgetting for a bit the heart damage and COPD that smoking causes) is both a genetic and environmental disease, which could be one big reason tobacco smoking causes so much lung cancer while pot smoking doesn’t. There’s been a lot of really interesting and exciting information that has come out about the genetic component of lung cancer the last few years. I’ll write about that in part two tomorrow.
This is a catching up story. I actually have been meaning to post something about this for a couple of weeks.
Last month, Vaclav Havel, the first Democratically elected president of Czechoslovakia (and the Czech Republic, for that matter) and the father of the 1989 Velvet Revolution that freed Czechosolovakia from Communism.
Overlooked somewhat in the news Victor Havel’s death a few weeks ago is that he died from smoking. Havel, who led the Velvet Revolution that freed Czechoslovakia from Communism, will go down in the history as one of the great champions of Democracy in Europe. I can’t help but notice the irony that this guy had the cajones to stare down the fucking Soviet Union, but wasn’t able to break his addiction to nicotine. He had two surgeries to remove tumours from his lungs a few years ago. Ultimately, he died of COPD.
Havel was 75 and had suffered for years from chronic respiratory ailments. He was a notorious chain smoker, common in Eastern Europe still to this day.
Havel spent years in prison and was the first president of Czechoslovakia and oversaw the peaceful split between the Czech Republican and Slovakia. One of the great leaders of the late 20th Century, taken too young by lung disease and tobacco. He was a great man.