What Are the Health Risks of Cigarettes in Comparison to Cannabis?
Cigarettes and Cannabis have long been subjects of debate and scrutiny, especially in their impact on human health. Cigarettes are widely recognized as a significant health hazard. Canabis is still stigmatized despite the growing evidence of some of its medicinal benefits. In this article, we will compare the health risks of smoking cigarettes with those of using cannabis. We will highlight recent research findings in the field.
Cigarette Health Risks
First and foremost, it’s important to note that cigarette smoking is one of the leading causes of preventable deaths worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), tobacco use is responsible for over 8 million deaths per year, including those caused by lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and heart disease. In contrast, there are no recorded deaths attributed solely to cannabis use.
Cigarette smoke contains over 7,000 chemicals, including carcinogens and toxic substances such as tar, carbon monoxide, and heavy metals. Smoking cigarettes can cause damage to nearly every organ in the body, including the lungs, heart, blood vessels, and reproductive system. Additionally, smoking cigarettes has been linked to several forms of cancer, including lung, throat, and bladder cancer.
The addictive substance in cigarettes is nicotine. Nicotine is a highly addictive alkaloid that is naturally found in the tobacco plant. It stimulates the release of neurotransmitters in the brain, creating a pleasurable sensation that can lead to repeated use. Over time, the brain becomes dependent on nicotine, leading to withdrawal symptoms when an individual tries to quit smoking. These withdrawal symptoms can include cravings, irritability, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, and sleep disturbances. As a result, quitting smoking can be challenging for many people, which is why nicotine replacement therapy, such as nicotine gum or patches, is often used to help smokers quit.
Cannabis Health Risks
On the other hand, the health risks associated with cannabis use are much less severe. Cannabis smoke contains many of the same carcinogens as cigarette smoke, but the risk of developing lung cancer is considered being lower than cigarettes. However, some studies suggest that frequent and long-term cannabis use may increase the risk of lung problems, such as chronic bronchitis.
When it comes to the effects of cannabis on mental health, the research is mixed. Some studies suggest that cannabis use can lead to an increased risk of mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression. These are not a risk to ignore. However, other research shows that cannabis may have a protective effect against some mental health conditions, particularly PTSD and some types of depression.
Cannabis is also considered to be less addictive than cigarettes. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), about 9% of people who use cannabis will become addicted, compared to 32% of cigarette smokers. Furthermore, the withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting cannabis are generally milder than those associated with quitting cigarettes.
The primary addictive substance in cannabis is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the main psychoactive component of the cannabis plant, responsible for its mind-altering effects. It acts on the brain’s cannabinoid receptors, leading to changes in perception, mood, and behavior. Although THC is responsible for the pleasurable effects of cannabis, it can also lead to dependence and withdrawal symptoms in some individuals who use it regularly. Withdrawal symptoms from cannabis can include irritability, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, decreased appetite, and physical discomfort.
It’s important to note that while THC is the primary addictive substance in cannabis, it is not the only component responsible for its effects. Other compounds, such as cannabidiol (CBD), may also play a role in the addictive potential of cannabis. More research is needed to fully understand the addictive properties of cannabis and how they can be managed.
In conclusion, while both cigarettes and cannabis have their health risks, the latter is generally considered to be less harmful to human health. But, further research is needed to fully understand the full negative health effects of cannabis. It is playing a bit of Russian Roulet at this point. At this point in time, it is clear that smoking cigarettes is a much greater threat to human health. Nevertheless, it is essential that individuals who smoke cigarettes seek help in quitting and consider alternative methods of nicotine (nicotine gum, patches or nicotine pouches) until you can completely quit.