Cannabis Smoke vs. Tobacco Smoke


If you can refrain from inhaling either cannabis smoke or tobacco smoke, you ought to.

Having said that, the intent of this post is to aid clarify regardless of whether or not the biological consequences of smoking cannabis and tobacco are equivalent, in the context of cost-free radical production, and the improvement of lung and colorectal cancers.

In order to adequately talk about this subject, it is crucial that we dispel some typical misconceptions about cannabis and tobacco smoke.

  • Cannabis smoke includes 4-fold much more tars than tobacco smoke.
  • Cannabis smoke has potentially greater levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons than tobacco smoke.
  • Like tobacco smoke, cannabis smoke includes numerous recognized carcinogens and tumor promoters, like vinyl chlorides, phenols, aldehydes, nitrosamines, reactive oxygen species, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)
  • The PAHs Benzo[a]pyrene, and Benz[a]anthracene are hugely pro-carcinogenic and are present in cannabis anyplace among 25-75% greater concentrations in cannabis smoke than tobacco smoke.
  • Cannabis smoke has definite carcinogenic prospective.
  • Cannabis smoke – induced cellular harm was clearly demonstrated in-vitro by way of epidemiological evaluation.

Ostensibly, it would seem that cannabis smoke could be much more damaging in terms of oxidative tension, and the improvement of lung or colorectal cancers than tobacco smoke. Having said that, it ought to be noted that,

cannabis and tobacco smoke have equivalent properties chemically, their pharmacological activities differ significantly.”1

In other words, regardless of exhibiting a higher carcinogenic prospective, cannabis smoke, reacts differently biologically than tobacco smoke.

What does this imply in terms of the biological consequence of smoking cannabis or tobacco? It suggests that in spite of its carcinogenic prospective, and demonstrable cellular harm, cannabis smoke does not necessarily have the exact same biological consequence as smoking tobacco.

In the report Cannabis and Tobacco Smoke Are Not Equally Carcinogenic, Robert Melamede writes that not too long ago, Hashibe et al carried out an epidemiological evaluation of marijuana smoking and cancer. A connection among marijuana smoking and lung or colorectal cancer was not observed. These conclusions are reinforced by the current operate of Tashkin and coworkers who have been unable to demonstrate a cannabis smoke and lung cancer hyperlink, regardless of clearly demonstrating cannabis smoke-induced cellular harm.”2

Right here is why

In the context of cost-free-radical production, our physique is a continuous balance among oxidative tension and reduction.

A standard, healthful physique maintains a healthful balance among oxidative tension and reduction by way of immunological response, and the anti-oxidant defense systems located inside cells.

Cost-free-radical production is hence a standard byproduct of cellular metabolism. Having said that, coupled with aging, environmental, and behavioral elements, cost-free – radical production is exacerbated and can lead to systemic, and chronic inflammation.

Cost-free – radicals contribute to systemic, and chronic inflammation simply because they are inherently unstable molecules that seek stability by stealing electrons from other steady molecules.

This causes a chain reaction of cost-free-radical formation that can bring about harm to the body’s cells, proteins, and DNA. This course of action is a precursor for establishing cancer.

Cost-free-radicals attack the nucleic acids (RNA and DNA), hence affecting the function, development, and repair of cells dependent on right protein function.

This is relevant insofar as when we smoke either cannabis or tobacco, we are engaging in behaviors that contribute to systemic inflammation, cellular harm, inhibition or alteration of cellular mechanisms, and the introduction of pro-cancerous material into the physique.

In performing so, we are adversely affecting the balance among oxidative tension and reduction by inhibiting , or altering our immunological responses and our cells anti-oxidant defenses.

Bottom line, inhaling smoke is undesirable for you.

Having said that, that does not imply that the biological consequences of cannabis smoke and tobacco smoke are equivalent.

Cannabis down-regulates immunologically – generated cost-free – radical production by advertising a Th2 Immune Cytokine Profile.”3

This suggests that in spite of cannabis smoke getting carcinogenic, a function of cannabis, especially THC, is that it promotes a Th2 dominant immunological profile. Th2 Cytokines are a subset of Helper T – Cells which aid activate the Cytotoxic T – Cells that kill broken cells. These play a very important function in the clearance of pathogens.

The significance of this is that though cannabis smoke does induce cellular harm, and is pro-carcinogenic, it does not necessarily progress from a pre-cancerous state.

In addition to mitigating immunologically – generated cost-free – radical production,

“THC inhibits the enzyme required to activate some of the carcinogens located in smoke.”4

This enzyme is recognized as CYP1A1, and is a essential enzyme that converts PAHs into ­ACTIVE carcinogens.

In contrast,

PAHs in tobacco smoke activate transcription of the CYP1A1 gene and boost pulmonary CYP1A1 activity numerous – fold.

What does this imply?

“The induction of CYP1A1 is time – and exposure – dependent and final results in a marked boost in the conversion of smoked PAHs into carcinogens, and boost in DNA mutations in lung tissue, and an enhanced danger for establishing cancer.“5

This is important insofar as though each cannabis and tobacco are carcinogenic material, THC potentially mitigates some of the danger of cancer from smoking cannabis, though nicotine potentially increases the danger of cancer from smoking tobacco.

“Nicotine activates some CYP1A1 activities, potentially rising the carcinogenic effects of tobacco smoke.”6

It is vital to note that the epidemiological evaluation carried out in the study getting referenced for this report was carried out in – vitro. It was hugely precise, and in a lab.

The parameters for the study ought to be respected, and is by no suggests suggesting what the clinical significance of this would be in a human physique, nor what the lengthy – term implications of smoking cannabis would be in regards to establishing lung or colorectal cancers. That would demand a longitudinal study and far much more study.

The target of this post was to be inquisitorial and informative, we are not endorsing cannabis or tobacco smoking, or generating health-related claims. We are in search of to advance the discourse on cannabis by giving original, sourced, and cited content material.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this post, or have a some thing to add, please leave a comment beneath.


  • Melamede, Robert. “Cannabis and Tobacco Smoke Are Not Equally Carcinogenic.” Harm Reduction Journaltwo (2005): 21. PMC. Internet. 13 Apr. 2018.
  • Roth, Michael D., Jose A. Marques-Magallanes, Michael Yuan, Weimin Sun, and Donald P. Tashkin. “Induction and Regulation of the Carcinogen-Metabolizing Enzyme CYP1A1 by Marijuana Smoke and Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol.”American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology, vol. four, no. three, 1 Mar. 2001, doi: , Accessed 13 Apr. 2018.

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