Marijuana Use Can Damage DNA

June 17th 2009 – Using a newly developed highly sensitive liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry method, the University of Leicester scientists say they have found clear indication that cannabis smoke damages DNA under laboratory conditions.dna

The researchers are Rajinder Singh, Jatinderpal Sandhu, Balvinder Kaur, Tina Juren, William P. Steward, Dan Segerback and Peter B. Farmer from the Cancer Biomarkers and Prevention Group, Department of Cancer Studies and Molecular Medicine and Karolinska Institute, Sweden.

Rajinder Singh said, “Parts of the plant Cannabis sativa, also known as marijuana, ganja, and various street names, are commonly smoked as a recreational drug, although its use for such purposes is illegal in many countries.

“There have been many studies on the toxicity of tobacco smoke. It is known that tobacco smoke contains 4000 chemicals of which 60 are classed as carcinogens. Cannabis in contrast has not been so well studied. It is less combustible than tobacco and is often mixed with tobacco in use. Cannabis smoke contains 400 compounds including 60 cannabinoids. However, because of its lower combustibility it contains 50% more carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons including naphthalene, benzanthracene, and benzopyrene, than tobacco smoke.”

In their study, the scientists describe the development of a mass spectrometry method that they say provides a clear indication that cannabis smoke damages DNA under laboratory conditions.

The authors added, “It is well known that toxic substances in tobacco smoke can damage DNA and increase the risk of lung and other cancers. Scientists were unsure though whether cannabis smoke would have the same effect. Our research has focused on the toxicity of acetaldehyde, which is present in both tobacco and cannabis.”

The researchers add that the ability of cannabis smoke to damage DNA has significant human health implications especially as users tend to inhale more deeply than cigarette smokers, which increases respiratory burden. “The smoking of 3-4 cannabis cigarettes a day is associated with the same degree of damage to bronchial mucus membranes as 20 or more tobacco cigarettes a day,” the team adds.

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

The study was funded by the European Union Network of Excellence ECNIS, the Medical Research Council and Cancer Research UK.

Article: Rajinder Singh, Jatinderpal Sandhu, Balvinder Kaur, Tina Juren, William P. Steward, Dan Segerback and Peter B. Farmer (2009) Evaluation of the DNA Damaging Potential of Cannabis Cigarette Smoke by the Determination of Acetaldehyde Derived N2-Ethyl-2′-deoxyguanosine Adducts. Chemical Research in Toxicology, 22, 1181-1188.


0 responses to “Marijuana Use Can Damage DNA”

  1. Previous studies showed cells with damaged DNA died off, decreasing cancer risk in the lungs verses normal exposure to pollution in the air. It also cleans out some of the tobacco gook, leaving smokers of both with cleaner lungs than tobacco only smokers. Any smoke at all could be shown to cause damaged DNA under “lab” conditions! Did they remove the tobacco filters so the machines wouldn’t be tricked by those tiny holes?

    Did they find any societal correlation to actual cancer? NO! I call shenanigans! What causes death? PROHIBITION!

  2. 3-4 joints a day, by yourself!!!???
    Must be pinners of schwag, floor sweepins, or possibly, as stated above, Zombies.

    Look, nobody lives forever, wouldn’t want to. The body is going to fail us all, regardless of what the DNA Research finds..even if the mind is sharp and clear, if I have no quality in my life, what’s the point? Why have people suffer trying to prolong the inevitable fact of “terminal illness” or deny the true pain relieving, appetite inducing, and mental well-being properties that cannabis has to offer?

    Prohibition of Marijuana should be null and void. I can’t believe we are still mulling it over after so many decades. Legalize it already. Since everyone is being forced to quit smoking tobacco, American farmers need to grow another cash crop for this country. Like it used to be.

  3. Trust me that if you were in pain or unable to eat, 3-4 joints in your day would make you far less of a “zombie” than the pills that would probably be prescribed to you. You also wouldn’t have the side effects or potential for severe physical addiction.

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