Worse Than Smoking


(CBSNews) Smoking pot might harm your heart health and that of the people around you — perhaps even more than cigarettes, a new animal study suggests.

Lab rats experienced a severe reduction in their blood vessel function after a minute’s exposure to secondhand smoke from either tobacco or marijuana, researchers said.

But it took the rats three times longer to recover from a minute of secondhand marijuana smoke, compared with tobacco smoke, the researchers found.

“If people think marijuana smoke is somehow exempt from the harmful effects oftobacco and many other kinds of smoke, this is evidence that it is not,” said study senior author Matthew Springer, a professor of medicine in the division of cardiology at the University of California, San Francisco.

The rats’ arteries carried blood less efficiently for at least 90 minutes following exposure to marijuana smoke, but began recovering from tobacco smoke within 30 minutes, the study found.

Smoke from both sources impaired the blood vessels’ ability to expand and improve blood flow by more than half, an effect that increases short- and long-term risk of a stroke or heart attack, Springer explained.


In the future, incense might need to carry a health warning, just like tobacco. That’s the conclusion of researchers who for the first time have compared the effects of burning incense indoors to inhaling tobacco smoke.

Previous research has already shown how incense smoke can be harmful to a person’s health, but these new findings suggest that it’s worse than cigarettes by several measurements – a result that may alarm some in Asian countries, where incense burning is a common practice in the home and a traditional ritual in many temples.

 “Clearly, there needs to be greater awareness and management of the health risks associated with burning incense in indoor environments,” said Rong Zhou of the South China University of Technology, in a statement to the press.

The researchers tested two types of incense against cigarette smoke to see their effects on bacteria and the ovary cells of Chinese hamsters. Both the incense products contained the common ingredients agarwood and sandalwood, which are used in incense for their fragrances.

The findings, published in Environmental Chemistry Letters, showed that incense smoke is mutagenic, which means it can cause mutations to genetic material, primarily DNA. Compared to the cigarette smoke, the incense products were found to be more cytotoxic (toxic to cells) and genotoxic (toxic to DNA). Of the 64 compounds identified in the incense smoke, two were singled out as highly toxic.


Office workers must exercise for one hour a day to combat the deadly risk of modern working lifestyles, a major Lancet study has found.

Research on more than one million adults found that sitting for at least eight hours a day could increase the risk of premature death by up to 60 per cent.

Scientists said sedentary lifestyles were now posing as great a threat to public health as smoking, and were causing more deaths than obesity.

Does anyone believe any of this claptrap any more? I don’t.

About Frank Davis

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20 Responses to Worse Than Smoking

  1. It’s funny; my girlfriend is a very avid marijuana smoker, and though she used to smoke cigarettes ocassionaly, won’t touch them anymore because she believes the hype about cigarettes causing all sorts of diseases, while viewing marijuana as perfectly harmless. I always laugh and joke with her about it and tell her cigarettes are no more dangerous than pot, and that they are actually beneficial in many ways, including making your brain function better and with more clarity, unlike pot… But there is no disputing tastes. I think I will show her this article while we have our evening smoke… 🚬😜🚬

    • Joe L. says:

      I’ve met a number of people like your girlfriend in recent years. Avid marijuana smokers who absolutely detest tobacco smoke. I’m talking about people who will pass joints around until there is a thick fug of pot smoke clouding up their apartment, but the moment I ask if I can light up a cigarette, they tell me to go outside.

      I have never been able to understand how people can become so brainwashed as to believe that the smoke of one burning leaf can be completely harmless while that of a different burning leaf can kill you. It’s very disturbing. If people can be conditioned to believe something this hypocritical, what are the limits with which people can be conditioned?

    • Frank Davis says:

      I’ve known lots of people like this. In fact, that’s what most of my former friends were like. But it wasn’t just that they thought that cigarettes killed, and pot was harmless: they thought that cigarettes killed and pot cured (more or less everything). And they also all believed in global warming. And the EU. Quite a few had become vegetarian/vegan.

    • smokingscot says:

      You may be aware that Amsterdam allows licensed Coffee Shops to flog hash – and you may smoke it in the premises. In fact it’s an offence to smoke it in public.


      But you cannot cut your hash with tobacco and you may not smoke a cigarette unless you do so in a proper legally compliant smoking room!!!

      (As an aside, to fully appreciate “Piper at the gates of dawn” being stoned is mandatory).

  2. Tony says:

    That first story is an old chestnut. Total bullsh*t of course. There was quite a bit of merriment about it on Siegel’s blog a few years ago. (see e. g. ‘killer cornflakes’ )

    I think there’s just enough detail given to be certain that the effect described is something called ‘epithelial dysfunction’. This is a brief, transient effect where the walls of the pulmonary artery harden slightly. It is neither evidence of harm nor is it dysfunction, despite the name. In reality it is an entirely normal response to stimulus.

    The anti-smokers made great play about passive smoking causing that effect and organisations such as the British Heart Foundation have used it on several occasions to claim that passive smoking had been shown to reduce coronary artery blood flow. On each occasion they have been forced to retract because it is simply untrue.

    Blood flow is not affected. What happens is that the stiffening stabilises the flow rate. My interpretation is that, in the presence of a stimulus which can result in an adrenaline surge, the effect is like a shock absorber, damping down what might otherwise be big surge in blood flow.
    The sudden exposure of non-smokers to tobacco smoke, which they’ve been told can kill them, is bound to provoke such a response. But any sudden stimulation will do. As also will junk food or cornflakes. Oh, and so called healthy food too. Anything really.

    The effect might last longer with marijuana as it is more of a relaxant. But so what.

    • Tony says:

      ‘Blood flow is not affected’ should have read ‘Blood flow is not reduced’

    • Tony says:

      Should be ‘endothelial’ rather than ‘epithelial’ and ‘coronary artery’ instead of ‘pulmonary’. Too late at night.

    • Rose says:

      I remember it well, Tony, Stanton Glantz’s 30 minute heart attack study.
      As I recall, he locked non-smokers in a box and then pumped smoke at them.

      Mental stress induces transient endothelial dysfunction in humans.

      “Mental stress has been linked to increased morbidity and mortality in coronary artery disease and to atherosclerosis progression. Experimental studies have suggested that damage to the endothelium may be an important mechanism.

      These findings suggest that brief episodes of mental stress, similar to those encountered in everyday life, may cause transient (up to 4 hours) endothelial dysfunction in healthy young individuals. This might represent a mechanistic link between mental stress and atherogenesis.”

      A rather more elaborate method than just sneaking up behind them and shouting Boo!

  3. waltc says:

    In pedant mode here are links to the studies Tony mentioned. About high fat meals (Vogel et al, 1997) low fat meals (Rudolph et al 2007) and cornflakes (Lavi 2009)

    Eating almost anything has the identical effect and in all cases, incl SHS exposure, it’s quickly reversible tho it takes longer from food than from smoke

    Eating a high or low fat meal:

    eating a bowl of cornflakes:

    A study by Harvard’s Kawatchi showed that anger and mere “grumpiness” had the same endothelial effect. Another study showed that so did walking from an a-c’d room into the heat or a warm room into the bitter cold.

    The widely-cited study he mentions that showed that same endothelial effect (trumpeted in the news) but also showed no change in blood flow (not mentioned in the news) was the Japanese study by
    Otsuko. (Sorry, no link at hand but a google’ll get it)

    • Rose says:

      This one, Walt?

      Acute effects of passive smoking on the coronary circulation in healthy young adults.
      Otsuka R

      “Recent studies have shown that passive smoking is a risk factor for ischemic heart disease and may be associated with vascular endothelial dysfunction. The acute effects of passive smoking on coronary circulation in nonsmokers are not known.”

      Cross-sectional study conducted from September 2000 to November 2000 among 30 Japanese men (mean age, 27 years; 15 healthy nonsmokers and 15 asymptomatic active smokers) without history of hypertension, diabetes mellitus, or hyperlipidemia.

      Coronary flow velocity reserve, calculated as the ratio of hyperemic to basal coronary flow velocity induced by intravenous infusion of adenosine triphosphate and measured in each participant before and after a 30-minute exposure to environmental tobacco smoke.

      Heart rate and blood pressure responses to adenosine triphosphate infusion were not affected by passive smoking exposure in either group. Passive smoking exposure had no effect on basal coronary flow velocity in either group. Mean (SD) CFVR in nonsmokers was significantly higher than that in active smokers before passive smoking exposure (4.4 [0.91] vs 3.6 [0.88], respectively; P =.02), while CFVR after passive smoking exposure did not differ between groups (P =.83). Passive smoking exposure significantly reduced mean (SD) CFVR in nonsmokers (4.4 [0.91] vs 3.4 [0.73], respectively; P<.001).

      Passive smoking substantially reduced CFVR in healthy nonsmokers. This finding provides direct evidence that passive smoking may cause endothelial dysfunction of the coronary circulation in nonsmokers."

  4. waltc says:

    I Am “awaiting moderation” for the three-link sin. Links back up what Tony said above

  5. Rose says:

    Does anyone believe any of this claptrap any more? I don’t

    Neither do I, but such claims are worth investigating so that you can find any hidden benefit that the study may be trying to obscure.
    These researchers do seem to dislike traditional solutions to problems, especially if they involve herbs. It’s as if they were trying to obliterate all ancient knowledge and any concept of a human immune system.

    Is Chinese Incense Smoke Hazardous to Respiratory Health?

    “To evaluate its effects on respiratory health, data from an air pollution cross-sectional study of 346 primary school children and their 293 non-smoking mothers, and a lung cancer case-control study of 189 female patients and 197 district matched controls who had ever been married were analysed.

    No association was found between exposure to incense burning and respiratory symptoms like chronic cough, chronic sputum, chronic bronchitis, runny nose, wheezing, asthma, allergic rhinitis, or pneumonia among the three popu lations studied: i.e. primary school children, their non-smoking mothers, or a group of older non-smoking female controls.
    Incense burning did not affect lung cancer risk among non-smokers, but it significantly reduced risk among smokers, even after adjusting for lifetime smoking amount.

    • nisakiman says:

      Incense burning did not affect lung cancer risk among non-smokers, but it significantly reduced risk among smokers, even after adjusting for lifetime smoking amount.

      Now I do wonder if the ‘significantly reduced risk among smokers’ was premised on the perceived risk of LC to smokers which is based on flawed and biased studies, and that the results merely showed that incense had no discernible effect, LC-wise, on anyone, irrespective of whether they were smokers or not.

      That is to say, incense actually doesn’t in fact have any protective effect at all, but if you start with the assumption that smokers are at x% greater risk of LC, then incense will appear to have a protective effect when both non-smokers and smokers generate the same results.

  6. Tony says:

    Thanks for digging out the studies, Rose and Walt. I now remember that it was MJM, in his book TobakkoNacht, that talked about Killer Kornflakes. Hugely entertaining as always.

  7. Tony says:

    Specifically, for example, that if endothelial dysfunction from exposure to ‘secondhand smoke’ posed an increased risk of heart attack then the risk posed by a bowl of cornflakes was 2,000% higher.

  8. Oi you says:

    I might join in this fantastic charade, pick a false name, fake university with equally fake credentials, start giving interviews, proclaim myself as an ‘expert’ in all manner of things, charge a nice fat fee. Nobody would know it was a load of crap, because we’re fed so much of it these days, we can’t distinguish what is fact and what’s fiction anymore.

    Professor You
    Expert in Waffleology
    Juan King University


  9. mactheknife says:

    I’m just going to pour a scotch, light up and sit back to enjoy the show. It was only ever a matter of time before ‘they’ shifted their attention to the stoners, hippies and new-agers. Let’s see how they like being lied to, lied about and generally ‘denormalised’. The screams will be music to my ears…

  10. slugbop007 says:

    Someone should lock Stanton Glantz in a box. Better still, in a sealed up wine cellar as it was done in Poe’s ‘The casks of Amontillado’.

  11. Pingback: Filthy Habits | Frank Davis

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