New York: Inhaling secondhand marijuana smoke is not as safe as it may seem. The weed itself may not be dangerous but smoke is likely to cause damage to the blood vessels.

A study showed that it took at least three times longer to recover the functions of the blood vessels of the rats which were exposed to only a minute of breathing secondhand marijuana smoke. After exposing to secondhand marijuana smoke for one minute, their arteries carried blood less efficiently for at least 90 minutes, it said.

On the other hand, it took 30 minute for the affected blood vessel to recover after similar exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke.

Matthew Springer, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco said arteries of rats and humans are similar in how they respond to secondhand tobacco smoke and the response of rat arteries is likely to reflect how human arteries might respond.

Temporary problems in both cigarette and marijuana smoke can turn into long-term problems if exposures occur often enough. It may increase the chances of developing hardened and clogged arteries, he said.

The study also found out that burning of the plant material is responsible for the impaired blood vessels, not chemicals like nicotine and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or rolling paper.

Unlike the warnings to avoid secondhand tobacco smoke for years, there had been no evidence that secondhand marijuana smoke can be harmful.

The study suggested that inhalation of smoke should be avoided, regardless of whether it comes from tobacco, marijuana, or other sources.

(With inputs from IANS)

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