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Smoking Marijuana Ups Toxic Chemical Levels in Blood, Urine

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 20, 2021 -- People who smoke marijuana have several smoke-related toxic chemicals in their blood and urine, but at lower levels than those who smoke tobacco, according to a study published online Jan. 11 in EClinicalMedicine.

David R. Lorenz, Ph.D., from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, and colleagues characterized smoke-related toxicants and associated health outcomes in 245 participants older than 40 years of age (76 percent HIV-positive).

The researchers found that 18 percent of participants were marijuana-only smokers, 20 percent tobacco-only smokers, and 24 percent dual marijuana-tobacco smokers. There was an independent association between marijuana smoking and elevated plasma naphthalenes, 2-hydroxyfluorene sulfate, 4-vinylphenol sulfate, and o-cresol sulfate and urine acrylonitrile and acrylamide metabolites. However, levels were lower than those associated with tobacco smoking. In tobacco-only and dual smokers, acrolein metabolite N-Acetyl-S-(3-hydroxypropyl)-L-cysteine (3HPMA) was significantly elevated in plasma and urine and correlated with nicotine metabolites. Cardiovascular disease diagnoses were increased among the highest tertile of 3HPMA independent of tobacco smoking, traditional risk factors, and HIV status (odds ratio, 3.34).

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

Abstract/Full Text

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