M.Original marijuana has many champions, and the potential therapeutic benefits of the drugs have paved the way for complete legalization in some regions of the United States. But science is not always so positive. Increasing evidence suggests that cannabis use can put people at risk for a number of medical problems – and may even put younger users at risk.
A new analysis of 43,000 adults suggests that marijuana use over a longer period of time is associated with a higher chance of stroke. People who consumed cannabis and who did no use tobacco products, more than 10 days a month were approximately 2.5 times more likely to have a stroke than non-users, the analysis said.
This risk was increased in people who also smoked or used e-cigarettes: This population was three times more likely to have a stroke than non-users.
Preliminary findings are scheduled to be presented this month at the American Heart Association's scientific sessions in Philadelphia and are expected to be published in the journal Stroke
The first author, Dr. Tarrang Parech, a research assistant at George Mason University and co-author Dr. Rupak Desai, a research associate at Atlanta VA Medical Center, tells Inverse that while the study establishes no causal link, the findings suggest that young people who frequently use marijuana may be at greater risk of stroke than those who do not.
"We believe this study was a key step towards this important subject of stroke risk among young cannabis users amid legalization and decriminalization in the United States," they said. "Frequent cannabis users may have a higher risk of stroke than non-cannabis users."
Future studies are needed to confirm and extend the findings. The study did not consider how much people consumed cannabis, for example, nor how much they consumed, the exact age at which people suffered a stroke, or whether they used drugs more than 10 days a month.
"Frequent cannabis users may have a higher risk of stroke than non-cannabis users."
The risk of an early stroke posed to a group of marijuana users after researchers took into account various confounding factors, such as conditions occurring.
Strokes occur when one of the blood vessels carrying oxygen and nutrients in the brain is blocked by clots or bursts. This sudden and sometimes fatal disruption of blood supply to the brain can occur in at any time, but the risk increases with age. According to the CDC, in 2009 about 34% of people hospitalized for stroke were less than 65 years old.
This new study, with previous studies suggesting marijuana use may put young people at risk of stroke.
It also adds to the growing evidence that marijuana use can adversely affect people's health. At the same conference, another team of researchers plans to present preliminary findings linking the diagnosis to cannabis use and being hospitalized for cardiac arrhythmia – irregular heartbeat.
How much marijuana affects the cardiovascular system is unclear, but it is thought to be related to how different cannabinoids, cannabis chemicals, communicate with the brain and its blood vessels. Only more research will answer this and the myriad other questions scientists still have about the impact of cannabis on our bodies.