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New evidence of health threat from chemicals in marijuana and tobacco smoke – Study

Scientists at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have uncovered new evidence of the potential health risks of chemicals in tobacco and marijuana smoke.

Photo by Francesca Zama on Pexels.com

In a study published online by EClinicalMedicine, the researchers report that people who smoked only marijuana had several smoke-related toxic chemicals in their blood and urine, but at lower levels than those who smoked both tobacco and marijuana or tobacco only. Two of those chemicals, acrylonitrile and acrylamide, are known to be toxic at high levels. The investigators also found that exposure to acrolein, a chemical produced by the combustion of a variety of materials, increases with tobacco smoking but not marijuana smoking and contributes to cardiovascular disease in tobacco smokers.

The findings suggest that high acrolein levels may be a sign of increased risk of cardiovascular disease and that reducing exposure to the chemical could lower that risk. This is particularly important for people infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, given high rates of tobacco smoking and the increased risk of heart disease in this group.

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. 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,” said the senior author of the study, Dana Gabuzda, MD, of Dana-Farber. “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.”

The study involved 245 HIV-positive and HIV-negative participants in three studies of HIV infection in the United States. (Studies involving people with HIV infection were used because of high tobacco and marijuana smoking rates in this group.) The researchers collected data from participants’ medical records and survey results and analyzed their blood and urine samples for substances produced by the breakdown of nicotine or the combustion of tobacco or marijuana. Combining these datasets enabled them to trace the presence of specific toxic chemicals to tobacco or marijuana smoking and to see if any were associated with an increased risk of heart disease.

The investigators found that participants who exclusively smoked marijuana had higher blood and urine levels of several smoke-related toxic chemicals such as naphthalene, acrylamide, and acrylonitrile metabolites than non-smokers did. However, the concentrations of these substances were lower in marijuana-only smokers than in tobacco smokers.

Investigators also found that acrolein metabolites – substances generated by the breaking down of acrolein – were elevated in tobacco smokers but not marijuana smokers. This increase was associated with cardiovascular disease regardless of whether individuals smoked tobacco or had other risk factors.

“Our findings suggest that high acrolein levels may be used to identify patients with increased cardiovascular risk,” Gabuzda said, “and that reducing acrolein exposure from tobacco smoking and other sources could be a strategy for reducing risk.”

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John Oliver Creates Jeff – The Diseased Lung – for Tobacco Companies

Regular readers know that I am against smoking and you can read my Page  – How Bad is Smoking? for full details. So, I was understandably entertained by John Oliver’s latest rant against smoking in general and cigarette companies in particular.

John Oliver with Jeff the disease lung who looks like a cowboy with his hat and boots.

John Oliver with Jeff The Diseased Lung who looks like a cowboy with his hat and boots, an homage to the Marlboro Man.

So, who is Jeff? He is Oliver’s compromise marketing creation for cigarette companies who are fighting ‘plain packaging’ laws put out to protect citizens from the harm of smoking cigarettes. Jeff is a diseased lung who wears a cowboy hat and boots to show simultaneously the fun and result of smoking cigarettes. Read on to learn of Jeff’s gestation.

Last night, John Oliver, the investigative journalist masquerading as a comedian on HBO, demonstrated that the companies who create and market those coffin nails are possibly more insidious than the cigarettes themselves.

Since the cigarette bans smoking rates have declined dramatically here in the U.S. Adult smoking rates have fallen from 43 percent in 1965 to 18 percent today as a result of the attention to smoking dangers, the banning of ads from TV and smoking warnings on cigarette packages.

However, despite this decline, cigarette manufacturers are making more money now than ever. The reason is that people outside the U.S. are smoking more.

Indonesia is the home of the ‘smoking baby.’ That two-year old whose story went viral when video of him smoking a cigarette was broadcast.

It turns out that Phillip Morris International has a kiosk right next to a grade school where kids can buy individual cigarettes during quick breaks from classes in Indonesia.

in 2011 Australia passed plain packaging laws that accentuated the SMOKING KILLS labels and relegated the brand name to smaller type on the bottom of the package.

The Marlboro Men haven't fared well as a result of their smoking.

The Marlboro Men haven’t fared well as a result of their smoking.

This plain packaging cut into cigarette sales and the companies sued to get the laws changed. They lost and Australia’s court ordered them to pay court costs and legal fees, describing the firms’ arguments as, “… delusive…”“…unreal and  synthetic …”“That conclusion is fatal to the case…”

Nonetheless, the cigarette firms have taken their legal arguments to Uruguay and Togo to get those countries to change their laws. Those are significantly smaller countries than Australia. Their entire gross domestic products are dwarfed by the annual revenues of the tobacco companies. As a result this heavy-handed activity by the companies is winning.

To enjoy the full flavor of John Oliver’s presentation, please invest the 18 or so minutes to watch his YouTube video. I promise it’s a lot funnier than this blog post.


Tony

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