People who smoked marijuana alone had higher levels in their blood and urine of several smoke-related toxins, such as naphthalene, acrylamide and acrylonitrile, than non-smokers, according to a study published Monday in the journal EClinicalMedicine.
“Marijuana use is on the rise in the United States with a growing number of countries legalizing it for medical and non-medical purposes – including five additional states in the 2020 election,” said senior author Dr. Dana Gabuzda, chief researcher in cancer immunology and virology. at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, in a statement.
“The increase has renewed concerns about the potential health effects of marijuana smoke, which is known to contain the same toxic combustion products found in tobacco smoke,”
The new study presented data from three studies of 245 HIV-positive and HIV-negative participants. The researchers say they chose to study people with HIV infection because of the high prevalence of smoking and marijuana smoking, typical of this population.
Medical records are compared with blood and urine samples of various chemicals obtained from the breakdown of nicotine or the burning of tobacco or marijuana.
However, 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 chemicals associated with smoke over time in exclusive marijuana smokers and smokers and to see if those exposures are linked to cardiovascular disease,” Gabuzda said.
Acrolein is a chemical with a burnt, sweet, pungent odor created by burning fuels such as gasoline or oil and organic substances such as tobacco. The chemical is not added to cigarettes; Acrolein is produced by burning the sugars present in tobacco when smoked.
While weed smokers had higher amounts of naphthalene, acrylamide and acrylonitrile in their blood and urine than non-smokers, even higher levels were found in people who smoked tobacco or a combination of marijuana and tobacco.
Acrylamide is a chemical used to make paper, plastics and dyes, but it is also produced when vegetables such as potatoes are heated to high temperatures. It is also a component of tobacco smoke.
The EPA classifies acrylonitrile as a “likely human carcinogen.”