Teenagers should stop rolling their cannabis joints with tobacco if they don’t want cancer, an expert has warned.
Ian Hamilton, a weed researcher based at York University, suggested youngsters should instead smoke the drug on its own if they want to get high.
Tobacco is linked to 17 types of cancer, including lung, throat and bladder – and is deemed to be the most preventable form of the disease.
But no such links to cancer have ever been found with the herb, meaning users are risking their long-term health by mixing it with tobacco.
Mr Hamilton said for many teenagers the world’s most popular recreational drug is a gateway to developing nicotine dependence.
Teenagers are exposed to cancer, heart disease and respiratory problems if they smoke their cannabis with tobacco, a cannabis researcher warns
Exposed to cancer
He told MailOnline: ‘Even if they quit using cannabis they may find they experience tobacco withdrawal.
‘They also expose themselves to all the other health risks associated with tobacco such as cancer, heart disease and respiratory problems.
‘We urgently need to provide clear public health messages in a way that young people will engage with.
If we accept that millions of people will carry on using cannabis then we should encourage them to use cannabis in ways that avoid tobacco and minimise harm to their health.’
How does tobacco kill?
Tobacco-related deaths account for seven million people each year, the World Health Organization notes.
The UN health agency has previously said that if current trends continue, deaths could top one billion by the end of the century.
Tobacco is linked to 17 types of cancer, including lung, throat and bladder – and is deemed to be the most preventable form of the disease
Alongside its widely published links to cancer, smoking tobacco also leads to heart disease by damaging blood vessels and raising blood pressure.
What about cannabis?
Conversely, cannabis has no solid links to cancer and only minimal ones pointing to an increased risk of heart disease.
However, researchers have long said that weed does have some negative effects, increasing the risk of psychosis by damaging the brain.
CANNABIS: THE RISK OF PSYCHOSIS
The risk of developing psychosis as a result of smoking cannabis is much lower than first thought, scientists said in April.
Over the years, a host of previous research has pointed to a link between the popular recreational drug and mental health conditions.
But a review of existing studies published on 4/20, an unofficial day to celebrate cannabis, found that cases are relatively rare.
However, those who smoke high amounts of weed should still be careful, according to researchers at the University of York.
While it is also considered to be a gateway drug, with a study last week suggesting users are 26 times more likely to turn to harder substances by the time they turn 21.
Mixing tobacco and cannabis
Cannabis users across the world have long believed that sprinkling a handful of tobacco in with the herb improves the high.
But just last month scientists debunked that myth, and said that combining the two won’t make users more stoned.
In the first study of its kind, British researchers delving into how both substances interacted when inhaled together found no such effects.
However, they did note that mixing the two together may help to lessen the memory impairment caused by smoking cannabis.
Who smokes the drug?
The latest figures available showed that more than two million people in England and Wales smoked cannabis in 2016.
For the previous year, Crime Survey figures showed a million of these were aged between 16 to 24.
The substance is currently a Class B drug in the UK, and anyone found in possession can face up to five years in prison.