Used as medicine or not, every drug has “side effects” – everything a drug can do besides the one thing you really want it to do. It’s one reason science continues to study those of pot.
One such study was published at the start of this month in JAMA Psychiatry. It involved 1,037 New Zealand participants who reported on their marijuana habits over a period of 20 years, from the ages of 18 to 38. Scientists compiled the info to determine if long-term pot smoking had an effect on health markers such as lung function, blood pressure, body mass index and waist circumference.
The result was unexpected. Scientists found no association with medical conditions, save one: gum disease.
As we’ve noted before, gum disease is a progressive disease, marked by chronic inflammation. Left untreated, it can result in tooth loss. Recent research has shown that both of these – periodontal disease and tooth loss – are associated with heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
So while the health of those New Zealand pot smokers seems intact at early mid-life stage, the results of further aging with ganja gums remain to be seen.
Does this mean that if you’re using medical marijuana, you should stop? If you’re smoking it, you might think about taking it in another form. Depending on the specific case, pot’s medical benefits may far outweigh its risks.
And with increasing legalization, it will become easier for scientists to study the matter and understand more fully weed’s impact on the human body.
Image by Torben Hansen, via Flickr