Secondhand marijuana smoke impairs blood vessels and it takes three times longer to recover after just one minute exposure of marijuana compared to tobacco smoke.
Secondhand marijuana smoke is more harmful than secondhand tobacco smoke, according to new research.
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Researchers have just conducted an experiment to show how dangerous the indirect exposure of marijuana smoke can be and how seriously we need to take this issue. In the experiment, rats were exposed to pot smoke for one minute and even this brief exposure led to serious disruption in their cardiovascular function.
Researchers found that rat blood vessels took three times longer to return to normal function after inhaling one minute of secondhand pot smoke compared to breathing secondhand tobacco smoke from same amount of time. However, the impairment was short term and blood vessels started to function properly in the end. The smoke was produced using a special device that simulates the way humans puff away cigarette.
“Arteries of rats and humans re similar in how they respond to secondhand tobacco smoke, so the response of rat arteries to secondhand marijuana is likely to reflect how human arteries might respond,” said Matthew Springer from University of California, San Francisco's Division of Cardiology.
“While the effect was temporary for both cigarette and marijuana smoke, these temporary problems can turn into long-term problems if exposures occur often enough and may increase the chances of developing hardened and clogged arteries.”
The damage was done merely burning the plant itself not by chemicals like nicotine and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the main psychoactive ingredients in marijuana widely known for harming blood vessels.
Health practitioners suggest people to avoid secondhand cigarette smoke but they don’t tell the same about marijuana smoke because until now they have not had evidence that this smoke can also be harmful. The study may help put an end to the common perception that indirect marijuana smoke is less dangerous than cigarette smoke.
“The biggest reason that people believe marijuana second-hand smoke is harmless is because the public health community hasn’t had direct evidence of its harmful effects like it does with tobacco,” said Springer. “We hadn’t done the experiments, so I think there is definitely an underestimation of how harmful marijuana smoke is.”
Researchers believe further researches are needed to evaluate the effects of secondhand marijuana smoke but until then it is better to stay away from any kind of smoke and to protect yourself health risks that are currently unknown.
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“At this point, we’re saying that inhaling any smoke is detrimental to your health,” said Springer. “I think that people should avoid inhaling smoke whether it’s from tobacco or marijuana cigarettes, forest fires, barbecues - just avoid smoke.”