16th December 2020
By Roland Sebestyén
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A recent study has concluded that cannabis use may have a negative impact on our voices. According to PsyPost, participants of the study indicated symptoms such as hoarseness, breathiness, and weakness of the voice. 

The study was published in the Journal of Voice and led by Dr Robert T. Sataloff, a professor and chairman of the Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery at Drexel University. The aim was to assess whether cannabis use had any explicit effects on the user’s voice.

Mr Sataloff said: “Cannabis use has been common among rock and popular singers for decades, but it also occurs among other professional voice users including classical singers, teachers, politicians, clergy and many others.

“Until very recently, it was not possible to study the effects of cannabis on voice prospectively because the substance was illegal. It still is in many states. Nevertheless, anecdotally laryngologists have seen the adverse effects of cannabis.”

According to the report, an anonymous, web-questionnaire was sent to patients from Sataloff’s clinical voice centre. The aim was to get a broader picture of the participants’ past tobacco and cannabis use and to note if there were any side-effects during consumption.

A total of 42 patients completed the questionnaire and were included in the study. Surprisingly, while less than 1 in 10 participants reported having ever tried tobacco, approximately 77% stated that they had tried cannabis in some form before.

The results are telling: as PsyPost reveals, approximately 42% said that “smoking the substance produced immediate changes to the voice” and 29% believed that cannabis use had a long-term effect on their voice.

Mr Sataloff told PsyPost: “Smoking cannabis can cause voice dysfunction. For high-level voice users such as opera singers, intoxication or alteration in cognitive function from any cause can alter fine motor control and result in voice injury. This is true of cannabis, as it is of alcohol.

“Physicians need to learn the facts and to ask about cannabis use in appropriate circumstances.

“In addition, because the substance is not quality-controlled in states in which it has not been legalised, it contains contaminants and harsh by-products in some preparations; and these can cause substantial laryngeal inflammation.”

He added, smoking through a water pipe is “somewhat better”, however, it’s still not recommended.

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