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Tobacco and marijuana smokers exposed to toxic chemicals

People who smoke tobacco and marijuana are exposing themselves to a series of dangerous chemicals, which researchers have only just discovered in the substances.

Teams from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention used blood and urine samples to monitor toxic compounds which had entered the body.

There were lower levels of smoke-related toxic chemicals detected among those who only smoked marijuana, when compared to those who also used tobacco as well.

Acrylonitrile and acrylamide were two of the chemicals found and are highly toxic in large amounts, but lower levels were discovered in the people who only smoked marijuana.

They also discovered that being exposed to a chemical called acrolein, which is produced by a variety of materials, increases among the tobacco smokers, but not with marijuana smoking.

High levels of acrolein could increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, but the researchers think reducing exposure to it could reduce the associated health risk.

Senior study author Dr Dana Gabuzda from Dana-Farber, said: “Marijuana use is on the rise in the United States with a growing number of states legalizing it for medical and non-medical purposes, including five additional states in the 2020 election.

“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.

“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.”

Dr Gabuzda said their findings could be used to “ identify patients with increased cardiovascular risk” and reducing their risk could be as simple as limiting their exposure to the acrolein chemical.

The findings were published in the journal EClinicalMedicine.

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