Daily Pot Use May Take a Toll on the Heart

Study suggests regular marijuana use leads to greater risk of coronary artery disease
By Steve Huff,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 24, 2023 1:55 PM CST
Daily Pot Use May Take a Toll on the Heart
People smoke cannabis outside a dispensary location in New York.   (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

A new Stanford study released Friday found evidence that people who smoke or vape cannabis every day could be at higher risk for coronary artery disease than nonusers. CNN quoted study author Dr. Ishan Paranjpe, who said there is "a growing body of evidence" suggesting cannabis is not harmless "and may actually cause cardiovascular disease." Paranjpe warned that "the decision to use cannabis must be carefully weighed against the potential for serious heart disease." Forbes reports that evidence supporting the study includes data culled by the American College of Cardiology from 175,000 patients.

Researchers found that compared to people who don't use cannabis, daily marijuana consumers faced a 34% increased risk of developing common coronary artery disease, which is caused by plaque buildup near the heart. The risk may not just be associated with smokers, either. THC—which is also in marijuana edibles and gives cannabis its psychoactive characteristics—appears to cause the buildup and to increase inflammation in general through its interaction with blood vessels. The key to avoiding these ill effects may be moderation. The study revealed that people who admitted to using weed just once a month or so were not at greater risk. Researchers accounted for other known risk factors such as hypertension, high cholesterol, obesity, and smoking tobacco or chronic alcohol use.

The study comes at a time when the cannabis business is booming. Forbes notes that 2022 sales of legal cannabis in the US totaled around $33 billion, and the Cannabis Business Times reports that 13 more states could legalize it in 2023, including Oklahoma, Ohio, Kentucky, and New Hampshire. The new study has yet to be published and will be presented at Sunday's annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology. (More cannabis stories.)

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