Marijuana Use Contributes to Bone Disease and Fractures

“Our research has shown that heavy users of cannabis have quite a large reduction in bone density compared with non-users and there is a real concern that this may put them at increased risk of developing osteoporosis and fractures later in life.”

~Professor Stuart Ralston, Lead Researcher for the Center for Genomic and Experimental Medicine at the University of Edinburgh

Now that recreational marijuana is legal in California, expectations are that public demand and personal consumption will increase. What is largely ignored are the health risks that come with heavy marijuana use.

According to a recent article published in the American Journal of Medicine, researchers at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland conducted a study suggesting that people who smoke large amounts of marijuana on a regular basis suffer from decreased bone density, making them more susceptible to fractures.

The bone density of heavy marijuana users is approximately 5% less than cigarette smokers who do not use marijuana.

Marijuana May Increase the Risks of Developing Osteoporosis

Researchers also discovered that heavy marijuana users also tend to have lower body weight and a reduced Body Mass Index.

This should be of particular concern to female and older marijuana smokers, because a lowered BMI means thinner bones and an increased risk of osteoporosis.

  • 1 out of every 3 women age 50 or older will experience an osteoporotic fracture
  • For women over the age of 45, osteoporosis results in more days in the hospital than breast cancer, heart attack, or diabetes.

The picture isn’t much better for males, either, because they also will experience the loss of bone density and a reduced BMI. Numerous studies have also suggested that smoking marijuana also lowers testosterone levels – one of the risk factors for osteoporosis.

  • 1 out of every 5 men age 50 or older will experience an osteoporotic fracture.
  • By the year 2050, the incidence of hip fractures in men is estimated to increase by 310%, compared to 1990.

There are other considerations that highlight the complicated relationship between various addictions and disease. See Part 2.

If you or someone you care about is abusing marijuana, the potential risks of cross-addiction and physical health problems are very real, as are the negative consequences substance abuse can have on the other areas of your life.

To get help, contact Lasting Recovery outpatient drug and alcohol rehab in San Diego and talk to a trained intake specialist about what can be done to help you protect your health and your future.

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