According to researchers, shocking discovery has been made that smoking marijuana will not just leave you at risk of a heart disease, but will also make you age faster.
Cannabis users age faster than those who avoid the drug, a new study claims.
A study of just over 1,100 people found the drug has a significant affect on the cardiovascular system, accelerating the build-up of cholesterol in the arteries.
It means a 30-year-old cannabis smoker, for example, has the biological age of a 33-year-old, the University of West Australia researchers claim.
The study is the first of its kind to look at marijuana’s impact on biological ageing.
Its release on Monday coincided with a report presented to the American Heart Association, which looked more closely at how cannabis weakens the heart muscles.
Lead researcher Professor Stuart Reece said he was stunned by the results.
‘We found that for those who used cannabis over a long time, not only does it age you, it increases ageing at an exponential rate over time which is alarming,’ Professor Reece said.
‘The level of cannabis exposure in the group studied was much higher than we have seen reported before in other studies for developed nations.’
Professor Reece said it was concerning that this was the first study to look at the long-term effects of smoking cannabis on the cardiovascular system and there were comparatively few studies across the world looking at its long-term effects.
‘It is important to the health of populations worldwide that such research be continued, with the study highlighting the large-scale costs to the health system from cannabis use,’ he said.
Professor Reece’s study, published in the British Medical Journal, emerged a day after a US study detailed the strain cannabis has on the heart. Researchers at St Luke’s University Hospital Network analyzed data on 33,000 patients with cardiomyopathy, a sudden weakening of heart muscles, between 2003 and 2011.
The illness is typically brought on by severe stress or grief.
But according to lead research Dr Amitoj Singh, at least two cases in their study were partly brought on by marijuana.
‘There have been many reports of heart attacks, strokes and the two cases of (stress cardiomyopathy) that have been linked to marijuana,’ he said.
Presenting his data at the American Heart Association’s annual meeting, Dr Singh argued for caution as marijuana legalization spreads across the country.
He warned young marijuana users do not typically display the tell-tale symptoms of cardiac risk, but he claims his data shows they have a higher risk of having one.
Dr Singh’s study concluded that marijuana users are two times more likely to suffer a heart attack. However, the majority of users in the study paired marijuana with tobacco and most suffered from depression.
‘This is a retrospective study, so we cannot determine causation,’ Dr Singh admitted.
‘Further research is needed to evaluate this study, especially considering the current increase of recreational marijuana in our country.’