According to a new study published this week in the journal EClinicalMedicine, smoking marijuana may expose you to the same type of toxic chemicals found in tobacco smoke.
The study had found that those who only smoked marijuana had higher blood and urine levels of several smoke-related toxins such as naphthalene, acrylamide and acrylonitrile than nonsmokers.
Naphthalene is a toxin that is associated with anemia, liver and neurological damage, while acrylamide and acrylonitrile have been associated with cancer and other health issues.
“Marijuana use is on the rise in the United States with a growing number of states legalizing it for medical and nonmedical purposes – including five additional states in the 2020 election,” said senior author Dr. Dana Gabuzda.
Gabuzda is a a principal investigator in cancer immunology and virology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
“The increase has renewed concerns about the potential health effects of marijuana smoke, which is known to contain some of the same toxic combustion products found in tobacco smoke,” she added.
The study researched data from three studies of 245 HIV-positive and HIV-negative participants. People with HIV infection were looked at because of the high prevalence of tobacco and marijuana smoking typically found in this population.
The researchers compared medical records to blood and urine samples of various chemicals produced by the breakdown of nicotine or the combustion of tobacco or marijuana.
The study revealed that tobacco smokers also had increased levels of a chemical called acrolein in their blood and urine but the marijuana smokers did not have higher levels of acrolein in their bodies.
“This is the first study to compare exposure to acrolein and other harmful smoke-related chemicals over time in exclusive marijuana smokers and tobacco smokers, and to see if those exposures are related to cardiovascular disease,” Gabuzda said.