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Medical advice about using poppers
Over the years, in particular during the 1980's, suggested connections have been made between the use of poppers and a number of human medical conditions, including AIDS and glaucoma. None of these connections has survived serious scientific scrutiny and to this day there is general agreement amongst objective researchers that there is no hard evidence to suggest that the habitual use of alkyl nitrites for recreational purposes has any detrimental effect on the users health. This is really quite surprising, hard to believe for many, and this makes poppers theoretically the safest - or least harmful - of all recreational drugs currently used in the western world.
The most famous of these suggested connections took place in the 1980's, when medical researchers noticed a correlation between the use of poppers and the incidence of the HIV virus which causes AIDS. This connection was later decided to be the result of the fact that there is a significantly higher use of poppers in the gay community, a demographic group which also has a significantly higher proportion of AIDS sufferers. This noticed correlation sparked a surge of interest in the connection and considerable research, as many eager researchers battled to be the first to prove the correlation. Unfortunately for the researchers and fortunately for poppers users, the subsequent research proved conclusively that there is no reason to suspect any connection between the use of poppers and AIDS.
Furthermore, according to the 1979 report Isobutyl Nitrite and Related
Compounds (know as the Pharmex Report, because it was sponsored by
Pharmex Ltd.), authored by Mark Nickerson, John O. Parker, Thomas P. Lowry,
and Edward W. Swenson, there is no evidence of dependency, which makes
poppers a non-addictive, safe recreational drug.
This said, poppers are nevertheless a drug and alkyl nitrite is a toxic
and highly volatile, flammable compound. Users should therefore use poppers
recreationally in a responsible and educated manner. Also, it should be
pointed out that scientific evidence is not always correct. Scientific
researchers who have made extensive studies of the effects of poppers use
have not said unqualifiedly that the use of poppers is completely safe.
Anyone who states categorically that poppers are safe is overstating the
case. What researchers and scientists have said is that there is no
demonstrable evidence that alkyl nitrites are unsafe or addictive.
Pharmex Report Summary:
All the volatile nitrites can produce vascular dilation with consequent hypotension and headache and insignificant degrees of methemoglobinemia. All effects are transient and can be reversed by removing subject from the area of high nitrite concentration. There is no significant toxicity to the lungs, liver or kidneys. There are minimal irritant properties to the skin and mucous membranes, though contact is painful to the nasal mucosa. No pathological changes have been reported.
Alternative View Points
Not everyone, however, agrees with this scientific analysis, the most
notable of whom is John Lauritsen who published, amongst other things,
the following short report in 1996 warning about the dangers of poppers:
TOXICITIES OF POPPERS (NITRITE INHALANTS)Click here for the full 1994 report by John Lauritsen about the poppers-Kaposi's sarcoma connection.