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Marijuana vs Cigarettes: which one is more dangerous?

I am writing this article to answer a question an patient of mine asked me the other day; in fact many Canadians often wonders if marijuana is as dangerous as cigarettes.

So, what do you believe, which one is worse?

I will present to you the facts and let YOU decide.

But let’s take it concisely.


  • Increase the risk for heart disease and stroke (main culprit: nicotine)
  • Can cause cancer almost anywhere in the body; lung cancer is just the most common form.
  • Smoking is a cause of type 2 diabetes mellitus and can make it harder to control. The risk of developing diabetes is 30–40% higher for active smokers than nonsmokers.
  • Affect a woman’s fertility and can affect her baby’s health before and after birth.
  • Affect men’s sperm, which can reduce fertility and also increase risks for birth defects and miscarriage.
  • Smoking can affect bone health.
  • Smoking is a cause of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Can damage your eyes and increase your risk for cataracts (clouding of the eye’s lens that makes it hard for you to see) and age-related macular degeneration (damage to a small spot near the center of the retina, the part of the eye needed for central vision).
  • Women past childbearing years who smoke have weaker bones than women who never smoked, and are at greater risk for broken bones.
  • Affect the health of your teeth and gums and can cause tooth loss.
  • Smoking causes general adverse effects on the body, including inflammation and decreased immune function and thus reduces the overall health of the smoker.



  • can have an impact on brain development; can cause short-term memory impairment and slowness of learning.
  • can impair lung function similar to that found in cigarette smokers; more serious effects, such as cancer and other lung disease, can follow extended use, due to carcinogenic effects of the smoke; it has been reported that cannabis smoke contained higher amounts of ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, and nitrogen oxides, but lower levels of carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs); the relationship between marijuana and lung cancer is not so well studied, like in the association between cigarettes and cancer.
  • decreased sperm count and sperm motility.
  • low rate of addiction compared to tobacco (it is estimated that around 10% of users will become addicted); but with the increased concentration of THC (the active ingredient) in marijuana, gone from 1% to around 12%, this will soon start to increase as well.
  • have a negative effect on driving ability; acute cannabis use increases the risk of an automobile crash.
  • interference with ovulation and pre-natal development.
  • impaired immune response, lowering the ability of the body to fight infections.
  • possible adverse effects on heart function, but less in significance, because does not contain nicotine.
  • by-products of marijuana remaining in body fat for several weeks, with unidentified consequences. The storage of these by-products increases the possibilities for chronic, as well as residual, effects on physical and mental performance, even after the acute reaction to the drug has worn off.

Well, that’s all folks.

If you’re asking me, I think the cigarettes are worse, with heavier and longer-term impact on your health and wellbeing. But both of them do have serious side effects that do not need to be dismissed lightly.

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