Study: Patients believe cannabis may have negative impacts on their voices

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“People concerned about their voices should be wary especially of smoking marijuana directly because of its heat, unfiltered impurities and other factors, Dr. Sataloff told PsyPost. “Smoking through a water pipe is somewhat better, but still not good for the voice.”

Smoking appears to be the main source of participant complaints. / Photo by Getty Images

Whether tobacco or cannabis, smoking these substances can have an effect on the vocal chords, Dr. Reena Gupta, director of the Osborne Head & Neck Institute’s Division of Voice and Laryngology, notes in a blog post. Although it’s not clear if the actual voice is affected, Dr. Gupta notes, she cites the potential damage from smoking as including vocal cord scarring (with decreased range), laryngitis, traumatic injuries (such as polyps and nodules), pre-cancerous changes and lung disease.

She writes in another blog, “regardless of how it is inhaled, every inhaled agent has an ability to damage the voice.”

A systemic review published last year suggested “cannabis-only smoking is associated with changes in vocal fold appearance, respiratory symptoms and negative lung function changes, especially in heavy smokers.”

Study authors noted that “cannabis smokers presenting with a voice disorder should undergo laryngeal imaging and complete pulmonary function testing when indicated and receive education about consumption methods and their association with voice disorders.”

And a 2016 Brazilian study of how tobacco and cannabis smoking may affect the everyday voices of university students showed that 18.4 per cent of subjects smoked cigarettes and 30.1 per cent smoked weed. “The most reported vocal symptoms were: hoarseness (28 per cent), low-pitched voice (17.2 per cent) and voice failure (15.5 per cent,” the study abstract notes.

“The study showed, within the population studied, a relationship between smoking and the vocal symptoms of hoarseness and low-pitched voice, when associated with the use of marijuana,” the authors concluded.

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