One of the arguments pro legalizing marijuana is that using it in the long term doesn’t have side effects, but a new study suggests that might not be the case.
In fact, after studying the effects marijuana use among a group of people for 20 years, scientists have discovered that smoking weed on the long term could be linked to gum disease.
Senior researcher Madeline H. Meier of Arizona State University led a team tasked with monitoring the marijuana habits of a group of 1,037 New Zealanders.
The participants were required to self-report their own weed consumption between the ages of 18 and 38. Then, the research team searched for potential connections between prolonged pot smoking and several common health measures, such as lung function, blood pressure, waist circumference, and overall mass body index.
Featured in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, the results suggest long-term marijuana use may increase the chances of developing periodontal, also known as gum disease. However, no other medical conditions were correlated.
“The general lack of association between persistent cannabis use and poor physical health may be surprising,” wrote the authors. The study specifically wrote that “cannabis use for up to 20 years is not associated with a specific set of physical health problems in early midlife.”
That is, with the exception of periodontal disease. “We can see the physical health effects of tobacco smoking in this study, but we don’t see similar effects for cannabis smoking,” explained Mrs. Meier, an assistant professor of psychology at ASU.
For the study, the participants born in 1972 and 1973 were asked to document their marijuana use periodically. Roughly 700 of the 1,037 individuals reported they used marijuana between the ages of 18 and 38, but smoking pot for about 20 years wasn’t statistically linked to any adverse conditions.
However, the results are in no way a green light for chronic pot smokers, because weed isn’t by any means innocuous. A study based on the same sample of New Zealanders has also revealed that prolonged marijuana use is linked with an elevated risk of IQ decline, psychotic illness, and downward socioeconomic mobility.
Even though the study doesn’t prove a causal relationship between smoking pot and dental problems, researchers believe that “physicians should convey to patients that their cannabis use puts them at risk for tooth loss.”
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