Researchers suggested people who are immunocompromised reconsider smoking cannabis to protect their health. Crystal Cox/Business Insider
- A new study suggests that cannabis use could lead to potentially life-threatening fungal and mold infections, especially for people who are immunocompromised.
- Previous research has shown cannabis plants are susceptible to fungus and mold growth.
- Researchers suggest people abstain from smoking cannabis, or learn more about the testing results for the specific strains they want to buy.
A government report warns that cannabis could cause deadly infections, not from the smoke it creates, but from fungus and mold that grow on the plant’s flowers.
The study, published on May 13 by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, builds on previous research in California and Colorado that found legal marijuana was contaminated with pesticides and mold, and could pose a risk to people prescribed marijuana for medical conditions.
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.
Crystal Cox/Business Insider
“In this large commercially insured population in the United States, cannabis use was associated
with a higher prevalence of certain fungal infections,” the researchers wrote.
“Although these infections were uncommon, they can result in substantial illness and even death, particularly in immunocompromised persons.”
Those who used cannabis and got fungal infections tended to be young and immunocompromised
Overall, cannabis users were more likely to report having fungal infections than the non-cannabis user population.
Published: May 13, 2020