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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Carcinogenic Research by Saturnus Daae- Safer Arizona Co Founder

Carcinogenic Research


            A carcinogen is often perceived as a substance or radiation toxin that directly causes cancer by inducing mutations with continuous exposure; however, not all carcinogens are as actively harmful. The International Agency for Research on Cancer1 has grouped carcinogenic levels into the following:
sufficient evidence
almost sufficient evidence
inadequate evidence
not classifiable evidence
evidence suggesting lack of

Interestingly enough, alcoholic beverages along with tobacco are associated with Group 1 (in which have both proven to be harmful). Carcinogens found on grilled and barbequed meats are not as detrimental in low moderations, however the higher the frequency of consumption, the higher one risks health deterioration. Carcinogens have both natural and artificial properties and not all are as harmful as others; many natural carcinogens (such as bacteria, fungi, or viruses) have been proven to be beneficial.

Although cannabis and tobacco smoke both contain carcinogens, their carcinogenicity varies and is possibly linked to nicotine and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabino (THC) binding to separate receptors to activate related pathways (such as nicotine receptors in the cells of the lungs).3 There is a significant correlation between tobacco smoking and cancer as nicotine increases the carcinogenic effects of tobacco smoke4. In studies conducted with both cannabis and tobacco smokers, it has been determined that the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in the lungs creates a protective effect against the tobacco tar, reducing carcinogenic activity.5 Cannabis has continuously proven to have more inverse effects on cancer rather than adverse ones. Cannabinoids are capable of attacking and eliminating cancers associated with: breast/prostate, lung, glioma, skin, leukemia/lymphoma, and pheochromocytoma.

Cannabis smoke (due to genotoxic effects of partially oxidized hydrocarbons) can potentially cause respiratory dysfunctions, however is not linked to cancers.4 Hydrocarbons are organic compounds; polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons specifically are those associated with smoke inhalation, containing: benzene, toluene, and naphthalene. PAHs are organic pollutants, and although they are considered carcinogenic, they can be as carcinogenic as consuming grilled or barbequed meat. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has categorized benzene with Group 1, naphthalene with Group 2B, and toluene with Group 3.

Paraphernalia designed to be used with water helps reduce to amount of carcinogens, however, this is due to some of the smoke being contained in the water chamber, so one may be smoking more to achieve the same high. The most effective and efficient way is a vaporizer. Marijuana itself does not contain the carcinogens; vaporizers at 200°C (392°F) heat the marijuana to release active THC vapors rather than burning it, eliminating roughly 95% of carcinogenic smoke, eliminating benzene, toluene, and naphthalene while preserving nearly 50% more THC.6 Since carbon monoxide and smoke tar levels are significantly reduced, vaporizers are more tolerable on the lungs and throat, producing a cleaner and more potent high as the marijuana is better conserved. “Significant amounts of THC (around 5%-6%) begin to be released at 180°C, with slightly more (7% or 8%) at 200°C.”7 The two most common types of vaporizers are either convectional or conductional. The difference between them is that the element used to heat a convection vaporizer never directly comes into contact with the herb; it indirectly heats through the flow of hot air. Conduction vaporizers that directly heat the herb produce satisfactory results, but are inferior to the conductional method.
Here is an excerpt from The National Institute on Drug Abuse:
“THC acts upon specific molecular targets on brain cells, called cannabinoid receptors. These receptors are ordinarily activated by chemicals similar to THC called endocannabinoids, such as anandamide. These are naturally occurring in the body and are part of a neural communication network (the endocannabinoid system) that plays an important role in normal brain development and function. The highest density of cannabinoid receptors is found in parts of the brain that influence pleasure, memory, thinking, concentration, sensory and time perception, and coordinated movement. Marijuana overactivates the endocannabinoid system, causing the high and other effects that users experience. These include distorted perceptions, impaired coordination, difficulty with thinking and problem solving, and disrupted learning and memory.”8
In all respect, they are correct. However, they fail to mention that some of the negative effects associated with marijuana, such as “distorted perceptions, impaired coordination, difficulty with thinking and problem solving, and disrupted learning and memory” are dependant on consumption amount, as too much of anything can be a bad thing, and the added effects of the carcinogens.

Independent Experimentation


My preferred method of smoking has typically been with a piece that involves water, as it is much smoother on the lungs and throat. As somebody who is highly interested in living a healthy and conserving lifestyle, I considered investing in a vaporizer. I felt that after a week of using it myself along with having others use it gave me some insight into carcinogenic research.

My personal experience with the vaporizer has been nothing but positive. I do consume less marijuana while achieving better highs that are functional, and what I mean to say by functional is that I feel that I can ingest more of the THC benefits without feeling overwhelmingly stoned. I have purposely consumed more than I needed to observe if I could still maintain composure, in which I have succeeded. Thus far, I have been able to take helpful subjective evidence from six other sources:

much more functional and alert with less product
pros: enhances taste, smooth on lungs/throat, eliminated occasional ‘anxiety’ from cannabis use
cons: uses more product to achieve more intense high
concerns: inability to aid in chronic pain
pros: enhances taste, smooth on lungs/throat
cons: prefers carcinogenic smoke for a more intense high

much more functional and alert with less product

pros: enhances taste, smooth on lungs/throat
cons: prefers carcinogenic smoke for a more intense high
concerns: inability to aid in sleeping
‘trials’ show that this was not an issue
pros: enhances taste, smooth on lungs/throat, efficient/conserving, effective
pros: enhances taste/clean, efficient/conserving, smooth on lungs
pros: pleasant taste, better body high,
*In response to e.w., I ‘assume’ that an advanced vaporizer that produces a large quantity of vapor at once would be a probable solution to a vaporizer that produces less intense vapors.

*In response to m.d. and m.s., I ‘assume’ that an advanced vaporizer that produces large amounts of vapors at once would be a probable solution to a vaporizer that produces less intense vapors; if this did not achieve a satisfactory high, then I would attribute non-functional highs to carcinogens.



After I noted the functionality high associated with the vaporizer, I theorized that perhaps the intensity of a high is partially the responsibility of the carcinogens. From personal experience, smoking a cigarette will also induce similar euphoric effects that are short lasting (and become shorter as smoking prolongs). Benzene, toluene, and naphthalene all have several risk factors associated with consumption, however for this purpose, it is only vital that I mention the ones that appear linked to non-functional highs. All three are typically ingested through air/smoke, but can also be consumed in contaminated food or water and household fumigants, as well as contracted through contact with skin. However, the body changes PAHs into other substances known as metabolites that are urinated out of the body over the duration of a few days (however, more than 75% of toluene only takes twelve hours to leave the body).9

(Illustration not available) 

Low to moderate levels of: benzene can potentially induce drowsiness, dizziness, and/or confusion. Derived of benzene, benzodiazepines (BZO) act upon the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA); this promotes a sedative/hypnotic result. Benzodiazepines are prescribed to treat anxiety, insomnia, mood disorders, seizures, and muscle spasms; categorized as short, intermediate, or long acting, one works better than another depending on the disorder. Short and intermediate acting benzodiazepines are associated with insomnia while longer acting benzodiazepines are associated with anxiety.10 Toluene is a mono-substituted benzene derivative and can potentially induce tiredness, weakness, drunken-type actions, memory loss, and confusion. Naphthalene can potentially induce confusion, and interestingly enough, its structure consists of a fused pair of benzene rings.

My advice merely suggests this: if one is going to use marijuana on a consecutive basis, the wisest and most logical decision when it comes to consuming it, would be either through a vaporizer (or edibles). Vaporizers are cost efficient as more THC is ingested while less marijuana is consumed; they are also more effective for the reason that more THC is extracted. The lack of carcinogens also promotes a healthier respiratory tract. Users can also obtain functional highs, removing negative stigmas associated with marijuana use, again, such as “distorted perceptions, impaired coordination, difficulty with thinking and problem solving, and disrupted learning and memory”.

From a personal standpoint on inhaling marijuana, to avoid those effects are to either avoid carcinogens altogether, inhaling mostly vapors, or simply smoking carcinogens, yet limiting the intake (keeping in mind that the more that is consumed, the more product it will take to achieve the same high, also burning over half of the THC content). Responsibility comes with every natural substance known to humanity, even something so simple yet so complex as water; all have their benefits, all have their risks, it does not mean that it should be criminalized.

Saturnus C. Daae

June 6, 2013



1: (2013). IARC – International Agency for Research on Cancer. Research Sections. Retrieved May 2013, from http://www.iarc.fr/en/research-groups/index.php.

2: (1999). IPCS INCHEM. Evaluation. Retrieved May 2013, from http://www.inchem.org/documents/iarc/monoeval/eval.html.

3: (2005). WebMD - Better information. Better health.. Pot Smoke: Less Carcinogenic Than Tobacco?. Retrieved May 2013, from http://www.webmd.com/cancer/news/20051017/pot-smoke-less-carcinogenic-than-tobacco

4: (2005). National Center for Biotechnology Information. Cannabis and tobacco smoke are not equally carcinogenic. Retrieved May 2013, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1277837/

5: (2009). Marijuana Strains, News, Products & More | Marijuana.com. On the carcinogenicity of marijuana smoke. | Marijuana.com. Retrieved May 2013, from http://www.marijuana.com/threads/on-the-carcinogenicity-of-marijuana-smoke.245844/

6: (2003). MAPS: Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. Study Shows Vaporizer Can Drastically Reduce Toxins in Marijuana Smoke. Retrieved May 2013, from http://www.maps.org/mmj/pr5.02.03.html

7: (2001). MAPS: Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. MAPS/NORML Study Shows Vaporizers Reduce Toxins in Marijuana Smoke. Retrieved May 2013, from http://www.maps.org/news-letters/v11n1/11120gie.html

8: (2012). National Institute on Drug Abuse. Marijuana | National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved May 2013, from http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana

9: (1999). Eco-USA. Eco-USA Search Page. Retrieved May 2013, from http://www.eco-usa.net/search/index.shtml

10: Dikeos DG, Theleritis CG, Soldatos CR (2008). Benzodiazepines: effects on sleep. In Pandi-Perumal SR, Verster JC, Monti JM, Lader M, Langer SZ (eds.). Sleep Disorders: Diagnosis and Therapeutics. Informa Healthcare. pp. 220–2. ISBN 0-415-43818-7.

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