When it comes to toxicants entering the body during a puffing session, tobacco smokers get it worse than people sticking to cannabis only.
That’s according to a recent study published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research showing that people who smoke straight weed have less toxicant-related health risks compared to tobacco smokers or people who mix.
A toxicant — compared to a toxin, which is naturally occurring — is a human-made toxic chemical found in cigarette additives and other industrial products.
In the study, researchers at the University of Minnesota compared differences in toxicant exposure among three kinds of smokers. One group smoked both cannabis and tobacco, and the other groups smoked one or the other.
Researchers recruited 53 smokers and measured toxicant levels among the groups via breath and urine tests taken in the morning after a smoking session.
In order to qualify for the study, stoners had to smoke weed at least one time per week and cigarette smokers had to have more than five cigarettes per day.
The study showed that people from the two groups that included tobacco had higher levels of exhaled carbon monoxide, which have been reported in systemic diseases, and observed in respiratory diseases most likely as a result of local inflammation.
“Co-users and [tobacco-only] smokers demonstrated comparable levels of biomarkers of exposure to harmful constituents despite smoking similar amounts of tobacco,” reads the study.
Cannabis-only smokers inhale ‘significantly’ lower levels of harmful chemicals
Although weed-only users are exposed to significantly lower levels of harmful constituents than cigarette smokers, they’re still exposed to higher levels of toxicants than a person who doesn’t smoke anything.
All groups showed the same levels for phenanthrene tetraol, a compound found in the urine of smokers after intaking phenanthrene, described as non-toxic and doesn’t cause cancer.
Studies suggest some people are able to get rid of chemicals like phenanthrene tetraol without a problem while others suffer damage to their cells ultimately leading to cancer.
The study also explains that sometimes cannabis-only users presented toxicants that appear in cigarette smokers, and this could be due to unknowingly co-using tobacco with weed given the lack of easy access to cannabis, or mixing it in blunts or spliffs.
Tobacco smokers showed higher levels of potent pulmonary carcinogen NNAL, a toxic compound commonly found in cigarettes that has been shown in previous studies to cause cancer.
Another toxicant found to be higher in the tobacco groups was 2-HPMA, a molecule that gets released in urine after exposure to propylene oxide, a mutagen and carcinogen.
According to the U.S. National Cancer Institute, of the more than 7,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, at least 250 are known to be harmful, including hydrogen cyanide, carbon monoxide and ammonia.