Secondhand smoke, or SHS, is bad whether the source has tobacco or cannabis. However, a new study published in the journal of the American Heart Association suggests that exposure to secondhand smoke of cannabis has longer harmful cardiovascular effects.
In a press release published by the University of California website, professor Matthew Springer, Ph.D. of the University of California, San Francisco, and the senior author of the research, explains that a person’s blood vessels carry more blood if they sense they need to pass more blood to the tissues. They become wider to allow more blood through.
Such process is called flow-mediated dilation, or FMD, and the paper claims that a single minute exposure to SHS from marijuana inhibits the process, thus increasing the risks of heart problems, including of course heart attack. The effects of which also last three times longer than the effects of SHS from tobacco, the paper adds.
The new study in rats of the UCSF researchers underlines the importance of avoiding SHS, at all times, from either tobacco or cannabis.
Investigating cannabis’ secondhand smoke
Previous research of Dr. Springer and colleagues focused on the impacts on human health of secondhand smoke from tobacco. One of which has found that as little as a minute of exposure to tobacco smoke diminishes FMD.
The missing link is apparently the effects of marijuana secondhand smoke on people.
For the study, the team used the equipment designed to ‘smoke’ cigarettes and fill a reservoir with the smoke. In a series of tests with the marijuana, rats were exposed to its smoke.
Here are the results: the team has found that rats exposed to the cannabis SHS experienced about fifty percent reduction in their FMD which is similar to the reduction in artery function seen in both humans and rats exposed to SHS of tobacco products. Interestingly, rats exposed for one minute to SHS of tobacco recover within about thirty minutes, while those with marijuana SHS exposure had to wait for about ninety minutes to recover.
Dr. Springer said the results were very interesting to him, also ‘distressing,’ as he cites people in the stands (stores that sell cigarettes) that would not tolerate people smoking cigarettes, but were fine with the marijuana SHS.
People, he said, should avoid inhaling the smoke, whether it is produced by marijuana or tobacco, and even barbecues and forest fires.
“Just avoid smoke,” he adds.
You can read the full paper at the journal of AHA website. It is titled One Minute of Marijuana Secondhand Smoke Exposure Substantially Impairs Vascular Endothelial Function.