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  • Christopher D.

Comparing the Health Effects of Alcohol, Cannabis, and Tobacco

In nearly half of the United States, the trio of alcohol, tobacco, and cannabis is legally accessible to individuals over the age of 21. Despite their legal status, these substances are accompanied by varying rules, taxes, and most importantly, health effects.

As discussions about the impact of these substances on human health continue, we turn to the insights of three doctors from different corners of the country to shed light on the question: Which is worse for you – alcohol, cannabis, or tobacco?

Before delving into their conclusions, it's important to note the conditions surrounding this inquiry. Dr. Michael L. Glickman, a family medicine doctor and weight loss expert based in Washington, D.C., emphasized the complexity of ranking these substances due to the lack of major randomized controlled head-to-head trials among them.

The amount consumed of each substance also plays a crucial role in determining the associated risks. Dr. Anand Akhil, a behavioral health doctor from Cleveland Clinic, pointed out that individual risk factors, such as family history and pre-existing conditions, can further complicate a definitive ranking.

Alcohol, Tobacco, and Cannabis

Despite the inherent complexities, all three doctors reached a consensus on the ranking of these substances in terms of health effects. Dr. Akhil stated that, for the average person, alcohol emerged as the most detrimental, closely followed by tobacco. Alcohol's negative impact spans over 200 health conditions and diseases, affecting virtually every organ system in the body.

The list of adverse effects includes depression, anxiety, dementia, cancers, heart and liver disease, and bone disease. Similarly, tobacco use is strongly associated with serious cancers, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and cardiovascular diseases.

Dr. Kevin Most, Chief Medical Officer at Northwestern Central DuPage Hospital, echoed the sentiment by ranking alcohol as the most harmful. He emphasized that while moderate alcohol consumption might be acceptable, excessive consumption can lead to a range of illnesses.

Dr. Glickman, however, held a different perspective. He ranked tobacco as the worst among the three, highlighting its lack of proven health benefits. He emphasized the substantial risks associated with tobacco, including heart disease, cancers, and premature mortality.

Glickman's stance was rooted in the fact that while alcohol, when consumed in light or moderate amounts, could offer benefits such as antioxidants, tobacco offers no conceivable advantage even in small quantities.

The Complex Standing of Cannabis

When it comes to cannabis, opinions diverged among the experts. Dr. Most ranked cannabis third in terms of harm, considering its potential medicinal uses and benefits when used in the right context. He pointed to instances where chemotherapy patients credited cannabis with aiding their appetite and nutritional intake.

Dr. Glickman highlighted the intricate nature of evaluating cannabis' healthfulness and harmfulness. He acknowledged that medically supervised cannabis use could be beneficial for certain conditions like chronic pain, anxiety, trauma, and insomnia. He also cautioned that cannabis could exacerbate certain mental health issues, impair memory and concentration, and potentially carry extra risks for young adults with developing brains.

Dr. Akhil emphasized that while guidelines exist for moderate alcohol consumption, no such established guidelines exist for safe cannabis or tobacco use. He acknowledged that negative health consequences could arise from all three substances, even in moderate amounts, depending on the individual and the context.

The Importance of Individuality and Consultation

All three experts underscored the uniqueness of each individual and their specific circumstances. They stressed the importance of consulting with a healthcare professional about one's specific situation.

While this exploration offers insights into the comparative health effects of alcohol, cannabis, and tobacco, it's crucial to recognize that no definitive answer exists. Each substance presents its own complexities, risks, and potential benefits, making individualized medical advice an essential aspect of responsible and informed decision-making.

In conclusion, as the debate continues regarding the health effects of alcohol, cannabis, and tobacco, the need for personalized medical guidance remains paramount. While the experts provided valuable perspectives, the overarching theme is clear – there is no one-size-fits-all answer, and each individual's health journey is unique.

As we navigate the landscape of these substances, it's imperative to prioritize health, well-being, and informed choices, and for those seeking access to cannabis, obtaining a medical marijuana card serves as a regulated and legal pathway to responsible usage.

Get Your Medical Marijuana Card Today!

Medical marijuana is legal in the State of West Virginia, and you can apply for your very own medical card today! You need your medical card to visit any dispensary in the state.

If you think you may benefit from medical cannabis, there is a good chance you will qualify for a card. It is now easier than ever to get your card with telemedicine, right from the comfort of your own home!

Being a West Virginia medical marijuana patient allows you the freedom to establish your own personalized treatment plan. We’re dedicated to helping patients every step of the way!

Feel free to give us a call at 877-303-8424 and we can answer your questions about getting a medical marijuana card in West Virginia.


Doctors Who Care.

Relief You Can Trust.

West Virginia Marijuana Card’s mission is to help everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to medical marijuana. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce the stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.

If you have any questions, call us at 877-303-8424, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!

Check out West Virginia Marijuana Card’s Blog to keep up to date on the latest medical marijuana news, tips, and information.


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