Smoking pot ‘as harmful as tobacco’

August 6th, 2009 - 1:16 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Aug 6 (ANI): A new study by Canadian researchers has shown that smoking pot can cause as much damage to cells and DNA as tobacco smoke, challenging the increasingly popular belief that marijuana is less harmful than cigarettes.

Rebecca Maertens, a researcher and co-author of the study, says that many people believe marijuana smoke is less toxic, and causes less damage than tobacco because pot is ‘natural.’

As public attitudes toward marijuana change and legal restrictions ease in some countries, use of marijuana is increasing.

Scientists know that marijuana smoke has adverse effects on the lungs.

However, there is little knowledge about marijuana’s potential to cause lung cancer due to the difficulty in identifying and studying people who have smoked only marijuana.

The new study addressed that question by comparing marijuana smoke vs. tobacco smoke in terms of toxicity to cells and to DNA.

Scientists exposed cultured animal cells and bacteria to condensed smoke samples from both marijuana and tobacco.

There were distinct differences in the degree and type of toxicity elicited by marijuana and cigarette smoke.

The researchers found that marijuana smoke caused significantly more damage to cells and DNA than tobacco smoke. However, tobacco smoke caused chromosome damage while marijuana did not.

The study is scheduled for the Aug. 17 issue of ACS’ Chemical Research in Toxicology, a monthly journal. (ANI)

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