Marijuana users have higher levels of heavy metals in their blood

A worrying new study shows that marijuana users have elevated levels of cadmium and lead in their blood and urine compared to non-drinkers found.

Researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health analyzed data from a group of more than 7,200 adults and found that the 358 people who reported using marijuana in the past 30 days had 27% higher blood lead levels than those who reported abstaining from both marijuana and tobacco.

The authors found that marijuana users had 21% higher levels of urinary lead in addition to 22% higher blood cadmium levels and 18% higher urine cadmium levels compared to those who did not use marijuana or tobacco.

The researchers examined data from blood and urine samples collected between 2008 and 2015 as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics

They divided 7,254 participants into five categories: non-marijuana/non-tobacco use, exclusive marijuana use, exclusive tobacco use, and dual marijuana and tobacco use. They then measured five different metals in the people’s blood and 16 in their urine.

Growing cannabis with smoke in dark room
Marijuana users have higher blood and urine metal levels compared to non-users.

Man smokes marijuana joint.
Researchers found that blood lead levels in marijuana users were 27% higher than those who did not use cannabis or tobacco.

“Because the cannabis plant is a known metal scavenger, we hypothesized that marijuana users would have higher metal biomarker levels compared to non-marijuana users,” said Katlyn McGraw, study author and postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University .

“Our results therefore suggest that marijuana is a source of cadmium and lead exposure,” she added.

There is no safe level of lead exposure, according to the World Health Organization. Even low levels of exposure can affect children’s brain development and lead to behavioral and learning problems. In adults, lead exposure can lead to an increased risk of high blood pressure, heart problems, and kidney damage.

Marijuana buds in jar
Even a small exposure to cadmium or lead can lead to serious health problems.

Cadmium is classified as carcinogenic by the WHO exposureEven in small amounts, exposure to air, water, or tobacco smoke over time can cause kidney disease and brittle bones.

“For both cadmium and lead, these metals likely stay in the body for years, long after exposure ends,” says Tiffany Sanchez, study author and assistant professor of environmental health sciences at Columbia University. said NBC News.

The results of the study were published Wednesday in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Caroline Bleakley

Caroline Bleakley is a USTimeToday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Caroline Bleakley joined USTimeToday in 2022 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with Caroline Bleakley by emailing

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