Scientists are studying the physical effects of marijuana
Marijuana use is widespread these days. More and more countries are loosening their laws and beginning to legalize the plant. But is smoking marijuana really harmless to our bodies? Researchers have now found that people who smoked marijuana by the age of 20 were generally as healthy as people who had never used drugs.
In times of growing support for the legalization of marijuana, the question arises whether smoking marijuana is not associated with a number of health risks. During a study, scientists from Duke University in Durham found that marijuana users were at increased risk of gum disease, but other people did not experience any significant health problems. The authors published the results of their study in the journal "JAMA Psychiatry".
The main health problem for marijuana users is periodontitis
There are many people in the world who use marijuana. Previous studies by the same team of researchers had previously shown that marijuana users were at higher risk of cognitive decline and descent into lower social and economic strata. The new investigation is now concerned with the physical health of marijuana smokers, doctors say. This time, the experts were unable to find any particular stress on our health, apart from an increased risk of gum disease. The only proven health problem appears to be periodontitis, explains lead author Terrie Moffitt of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.
What is periodontitis?
With periodontitis, the gums become inflamed around the teeth. The gums then withdraw from the teeth, creating pockets in the small spaces. Bacteria can then nest in these, leading to inflammation. If left untreated, periodontitis can even result in tooth loss, the experts explain.
Study examines over 1000 subjects
For the new study, the research team examined 1,037 people. All were born in New Zealand between 1972 and 1973. The study of subjects began at age 3 and ended at age 38, the authors say. Overall, about 65 percent of the participants reported that they had smoked marijuana at some point in their lives. All subjects were under 18 at the time, the researchers add. The researchers found no link between marijuana use in adolescence and poor physical health in adulthood. Lung function, metabolic health, blood pressure, and body mass index (BMI) were unaffected by marijuana use. The experts added that there was only an increased risk of gum disease from smoking marijuana.
Physical health problems from tobacco use
When you smoke, your gums heat up. This can cause inflammation, which is bad for our teeth, says Moffitt. For comparison, researchers had also examined whether smoking tobacco had any negative effects on our health. They found a number of health problems that are caused by tobacco use. These included, for example, inflammation, periodontitis, problems with cholesterol and blood sugar and lung function problems, say the doctors.
Cannabis does not appear to be a serious public health problem
Cannabis isn't really a big public health problem right now, the authors explain. While consumption can trigger psychological problems, these effects affect very few people. The dangers posed by the consumption of alcohol and tobacco are greater. In addition, many more people also consume alcohol and tobacco, which makes the effects on public health much more dramatic, doctors add. (as)