Marijuana Users Could Be Exposed To Harmful Metals Like Lead And Cadmium, Study Shows 

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Recent research at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health discovered elevated cadmium and lead levels in the blood and urine of marijuana users, raising concerns about potential health risks associated with exposure to these metals. This study is one of the first to document the presence of metal biomarkers in marijuana users and is among the most comprehensive research linking self-reported marijuana consumption with measurable metal exposure in the body.

Marijuana users found to have elevated levels of led in blood 

The research findings reveal a significant disparity in metal concentrations between individuals who consume marijuana and those who abstain from it. According to Tiffany Sanchez, the lead study author and a professor specializing in environmental health sciences at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in New York City, individuals who use marijuana exhibited a 27% increase in blood lead levels and a 21% rise in urine lead levels compared to their non-using counterparts

Sanchez added that cadmium concentrations in the bloodstream were significantly elevated among individuals who consumed marijuana, approximately 22% more pronounced than individuals who refrained from its use. Those who used marijuana exhibited an 18% increase in cadmium levels in their urine compared to those who abstained.

Cadmium gets absorbed to the renal system 

According to Sanchez lead and cadmium tend to stay in the body’s system for a long time with cadmium getting absorbed into the renal system and filtered out from the kidney. Therefore, urinary cadmium is a reflection of body burden and how much someone has been under chronic exposure. 

The study examined data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) (2005-2018) with 7,254 participants, categorizing them into non-cannabis/non-tobacco, exclusive marijuana and tobacco users, and dual users. Urine and blood samples were analyzed for metal content. Marijuana and tobacco use were determined using criteria like current smoking, cotinine levels, and self-reported use.

Cadmium is linked to lung cancer, kidney disease, and fetal abnormalities, while lead can lead to irreversible damage to development of the brain, kidneys, and the nervous system, as per the EPA and Mayo Clinic.

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