Does marijuana affect your bones

Cannabis makes bones thin

Questionable drug: hashish appears to be harmful not only to the brain, but also to bones. Because those who regularly smoke dope usually have thinner bones and break them more often. In addition, heavy stoners weigh less and have a lower body mass index, a study shows. This also increases your risk of osteoporosis.

Cannabis is considered one of the most popular illegal drugs - and is increasingly being used as a legal remedy. However, regular consumption of hashish also carries risks. For example, cannabis can promote the onset of psychosis, disrupt brain waves, and reduce sperm fitness. Whether smoking weed makes you stupid, on the other hand, is still controversial today.

However, a study by Stuart Ralston of the University of Edinburgh and his colleagues now suggests that regular smoking weed could have serious effects on our bones.

Density measurement using X-rays

For their study, the researchers examined 170 regular stoners, including participants who had smoked hashish more than 40,000 times in their lives, but also more moderate stoners. Cigarette smokers were included as a comparison group.

To see whether regular hashish smoking actually harms our bones, the researchers compared the bone density of stoners with that of cigarette smokers of comparable age and stature. Typically, the bones of the wrist are x-rayed for this density measurement. The amount of radiation the bone let through told the researchers whether the bones were more porous than usual.

Lower bone density

The researchers discovered that the bone density of heavy stoners was on average five percent lower than that of pure cigarette smokers. The marijuana group had also suffered from broken bones on a number of occasions. In contrast, this was not the case for participants who only smoked moderately.

"Our research has shown that heavy cannabis users have quite a high reduction in bone density compared to non-users," says Ralston. "This is really worrying that it puts them at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis or fractures later in life."

There was also a surprising result: the heavy stoners also weighed less and had a lower BMI - which also increased the risk of osteoporosis. The effect is surprising because hashish is actually said to make you particularly hungry. However, the team assumes that this effect is reversed with heavy stoners. Regular and frequent smoking could then lead to the intoxicating weed curbing the appetite.

Mechanism of action still unclear

This study is the first to explore the bone health of stoners. However, it does not yet provide a physiological explanation for the connection between drug use and bone loss. According to the researchers, more studies are needed to understand this.

"We've known for a while that the ingredients in cannabis can affect cell function, but we had no idea what that might mean for people who use cannabis regularly," says Ralston. (American Journal of Medicine, 2016)

(University of Edinburgh, October 13, 2016 - HDI)

October 13, 2016