Heart Disease: The Reason You Shouldn’t Be Mixing Cannabis With Tobacco
New Swiss study says tobacco and cannabis can increase the risk for clogged arteries
A new study conducted by researchers from the University of Bern looked at data taken from 25 years, which revealed that smoked cannabis was only linked to clogged arteries among users who have smoked tobacco for their lifetime.
It’s long been known that smoking tobacco can cause atherosclerosis, a cardiovascular condition characterized by arteries that have been clogged up by fatty deposits known as plaque. It specifically affects the arteries that are responsible for supplying blood to the heart. However, this area has remained a gray area when it comes to smoked cannabis.
Reto Auer of the University of Bern Institute for Primary Health Care led the international team of researchers in analyzing data. The participants involved 3,498 males and females who joined the 25-year US-based study called the Coronary Artery Risk Development In Young Adults (CARDIA).
“We knew the effect of tobacco smoke, but not of marijuana smoke on subclinical plaque build-up in heart arteries (a marker of future heart attacks). We sought to determine the association between lifetime exposure to marijuana and measures of plaque build-up in mid-life,” Auer said in a press release.
The researchers found a strong link among the presence of plague with tobacco exposure. But for middle-aged cannabis smokers who never used tobacco, they did not find any plaque. The study’s authors say that there is only a weak link connecting frequent cannabis use with atherosclerosis. But when tobacco and cannabis are used together, this could lead to serious effects on one’s health.
“Our study confirms the strong and consistent association between tobacco use and plaques build-up. The broader public health implications of high prevalence of tobacco use among marijuana users is alarming,” says principal investigator and the study’s co-author Stephen Sidney.
"The use of marijuana was surprisingly common. So far, we are seeing the adverse effects due to tobacco smoking or in other words the company marijuana keeps. We feel these are important and timely findings, however continued research in this area is warranted," says Jamal S. Rana MD, PhD, the senior author of the study and a cardiologist and researcher at the Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center.
People Need To Stop Mixing Tobacco With Cannabis
Mixing cannabis with tobacco basically mitigates any health benefits of cannabis. In fact, doing so can pave the way for health problems down the road.
But the practice of mixing cannabis and tobacco is still widespread globally, especially in Europe. A Global Drug Survey revealed that as much as 90% of cannabis users in Europe mix cannabis and tobacco, compared to the 8% of Americans who consume it this way. While many prohibitionists in the United States argue that cannabis is a “gateway drug”, in Europe there is a reverse gateway effect wherein Europeans consider cannabis the gateway drug to tobacco since most people usually get their first experience with tobacco at the same time they smoke their very first joint.
Many users enjoy the combination, especially since nicotine gives you good feelings similar to those that are released when you take opioids. Nicotine has been known to induce calmness, ease tension, and relax the muscles. When you pair it with cannabis, it feels like a match made in heaven.
If you think that combining cannabis with tobacco will prevent the side effects of smoking tobacco, it won’t. Cannabis is well-known for its cancer-fighting properties, and it’s even been known to help save people who have lung cancer – the leading preventable disease in the world that is caused by cigarette/tobacco smoke. Mixing tobacco and cannabis dramatically increases the amount of carcinogens that you inhale, and it’s been shown to be really bad for your heart.
A study conducted by researchers from the University College London analyzed 24 experienced cannabis users who participated in four sessions for the study: they smoked joints made with cannabis and tobacco, cannabis and a placebo, tobacco and a placebo, or placebos of both substances. The researchers also measured their blood pressure and heart rate. They found that the participants who combined cannabis and tobacco showed a dramatic increase in heart rate and blood pressure when the 2 were mixed.
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