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WARNING: Too Much Marijuana Could Lead to Reduced Bone Density, More Prone to Fractures

Oct 14, 2016 05:39 AM EDT
Heavy consumption of cannabis linked to lower bone density, body weight and BMI.
(Photo : Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

A new study from the University of Edinburgh revealed that people who consume large amount of cannabis are most likely to have reduced bone density and are more prone to fracture.

The study, published in The American Journal of Medicine, showed that heavy pot smokers are at greater risk of developing osteoporosis later on their life. Furthermore, the researchers were surprised to find out that heavy cannabis used leads to lower body weight and Body-Mass Index (BMI), despite the popular belief that stoners have increased appetite.

"Our research has shown that heavy users of cannabis have quite a large reduction in bone density compared with nonusers and there is a real concern that this may put them at increased risk of developing osteoporosis and fractures later in life," said Stuart Ralston, M.D., professor at the University of Edinburgh's Centre for Genomic and Experimental Medicine and lead author of the study, in a statement.

For the study, the researchers enrolled 170 people who smoke pot regularly for recreational purposes and 114 healthy non-users. Each participant was asked to undergo a specialized x-ray technique called a DEXA scan to measure their bone density. The researchers also defined heavy users as someone who have consumed cannabis more than 47,000 times in a lifetime, while moderate users used the drug about 1,000 times.

After analyzing the result of the participants' DEXA scan, the researchers discovered that the bone density of heavy pot smokers was about five percent lower compared to the participants who smoke cigarettes but never lighted a joint. On the other, moderate cannabis users showed no difference in their bone density from non-users.

The researchers believe that large dose of cannabis over a period of time might actually reduce appetite leading to lower body weight and reduced BMI. The reduction of body weight and BMI then contributed to the thinning of their bones, making them more prone to fractures and most likely to develop osteoporosis.

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