Cannabis may not be as benign to heart health as many believe it is.
Marijuana has rapidly been expanding in legal use in locations across the country over recent years. While still outlawed at the federal level, more and more states are voting to permit the sale and private use of recreational marijuana, and it seems that this momentum is only going to continue in the years to come. With this advance in legal consumption comes closer study of the health effects of using this drug, generally deemed safe. A new study by the American College of Cardiology, for example, has shown that those who use marijuana on a daily basis face a significantly elevated chance of heart disease. These results contradict the common belief that marijuana use is relatively benign.
One of the reasons that marijuana has started to gain more mainstream acceptance is the impression that it is generally safe to use. In this study, it is shown that those beliefs may need to be examined further scientifically before we can speak with any authority on the matter. A single study doesn’t offer the final word on any one topic, but it does add to the growing database of informative research.
While the format of the study was somewhat complex, it used a genetics-based approach to attempt to find a connection between the use of marijuana and coronary artery disease. After the necessary adjustments were made to the data to normalize for things like age and sex, there was a strong connection between daily marijuana use and coronary artery disease risk. Specifically, the study showed that the daily users were 34% more likely to face this disease later in life.
It is important to point out that the results specifically relate to those using marijuana daily. When this frequency was shifted to monthly for the purposes of the study, no relationship was uncovered. Researchers have hypothesized that a connection between heart disease and marijuana could be the result of cannabis promoting inflammation and plaque buildup, but more research would be required to prove the precise reason for this connection.
These results can be useful for people who may occasionally – or regularly – use marijuana and want to make good decisions for their present and future health. As shown above, it doesn’t seem like periodic marijuana use has a notable impact on heart health, but daily use could lead to heart problems. Also, people who already have heart issues might want to think twice about even periodic use, as it’s not known exactly how this drug will impact someone who is already compromised from a coronary perspective and may be on medication to control a condition.
It’s all but certain that far more will be learned about the health impacts of marijuana use in the years to come. While this drug has long been used by millions of people, it was far more difficult to study the impacts of that use when it was illegal. As that hurdle continues to be moved out of the way, there is no telling what science may uncover moving forward.
Study: Daily marijuana use linked to heart disease
Daily cannabis use linked to spike in coronary artery disease
CDC: Marijuana and Public Health
Marijuana Use in Patients With Cardiovascular Disease: JACC Review Topic of the Week
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