Wednesday, 17 Jun, 2009 Health & Fitness

Cannabis Smoke Damages DNA


Researchers at University of Leicester claim they managed to find convincing proof that cannabis smoke causes damaged to human DNA, increasing the risk of developing cancer. The results of their study were published in the journal "Chemical Research in Toxicology".

The scientists who worked on the research represent such institutions as the Cancer Biomarkers and Prevention Group, Department of Cancer Studies and Molecular Medicine and Karolinska Institute in Sweden.

One of the researchers, Raj Singh, said that up till now scientists knew that tobacco smoke contains 4000 chemicals with 60 chemicals being classed as carcinogens. At the same time he outlined that cannabis was poorly studied. Cannabis is less combustible compared to tobacco and very often people mix the two. The researcher said that cannabis smoke features 400 compounds with 60 being cannabinoids.

But due to the lower combustibility, cannabis has 50 percent more carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons than tobacco smoke. Some of the carcinogenic chemicals include naphthalene, benzanthracene, and benzopyrene.

In their research scientists used a special method that had shown a clear sign that cannabis smoke damages DNA. It was previously known that tobacco smoke damages human DNA, but scientists were unsure about the effects of cannabis smoke. "Our research has focused on the toxicity of acetaldehyde, which is present in both tobacco and cannabis," wrote scientists in their article. They say that a daily dose of 3-4 cannabis cigarettes causes the same damage to bronchial mucus membranes as 20 tobacco cigarettes smoked during the day.

"These results provide evidence for the DNA damaging potential of cannabis smoke, implying that the consumption of cannabis cigarettes may be detrimental to human health with the possibility to initiate cancer development," wrote the researchers.

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