UCSF study reveals THC can affect blood vessels

(KRON) — It’s long been known that people who smoke tobacco are at a higher risk of having heart problems. Now, a team of researchers at UCSF have found that marijuana products also pose the same risk.

What’s particularly interesting is that burning any plant can release toxic chemicals, but apparently eating THC products can be risky too. Since last summer, UCSF cardiovascular researchers have studied 44 people to learn the effects that marijuana has on their blood vessels and hearts. The control group included healthy adults between 18 and 50 years old. Other groups include chronic tobacco smokers, those who smoke weed at least three times a week, people who only take THC edibles and people who aren’t exposed to any of these.

“We’ve been doing a lot of research in rats that’s indicated that marijuana smoke has similar cardiovascular harmful effects as tobacco smoke,” said Dr. Matt Springer, UCSF cardiovascular researcher. “Now we actually see for the first time that the smoke is having the same effect on humans.”

Dr. Springer said the results found that smoking or just eating THC-filled edibles can affect the flexibility of our blood vessels so that they have a harder time opening and closing. That could increase cardiovascular risk and can lead to a stroke or heart attack.

“We’re basically looking at a coincidence that both situations cause the same physiological effect but for different reasons,” Dr. Springer said.

This study will go on for years and UCSF researchers still need people to help out. They’re paying each person $100 for two hours of a one-time visit to their Mission Bay campus. So far, they still need a particular group – people who are regularly exposed to marijuana secondhand smoke, and not tobacco secondhand smoke. You can apply at mjstudy@ucsf.edu.

Dr. Springer said they might look at people who quit smoking pot to see if there may be any improvement since other studies already explore the same with tobacco.

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