Cannabis Use is Associated With Faster Aging, Says Study

Regular cannabis use can be harmful to the human body. It can induce toxicity in the lungs, brain, the respiratory as well as the reproductive system. To add to the list of problems induced by cannabis, a recent study has claimed that smoking cannabis can cause serious damage to the vascular system and can lead to faster aging.

The study by researchers from the University of Western Australia revealed that prolonged use of marijuana can increase the biological age of a person by 11 percent. It is primarily because long-term cannabis use can make the arteries stiff. For someone whose actual age is 30, smoking cannabis can turn his or her biological age into 33.

Cannabis is derived from the Cannabis Sativa plant, which contains a highly mind-altering chemical called delta-9- tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) along with other related compounds.

As part of the study, the following groups were analyzed:

  • 11 participants who used only cannabis
  • 504 participants who used tobacco
  • 144 participants who used a combination of cannabis and tobacco
  • 534 participants who were non-smokers

The respondents did not suffer from any cardiovascular disease and had no acute exposure to heroin, alcohol, amphetamine or methadone. After observing the participants for over a period of five years, the researchers noticed that those who were dependent on cannabis aged faster than the rest of the groups, including the tobacco users.

"We found that for those who used cannabis over a long time, not only does it age you, it increases aging at an exponential rate over time which is alarming," said Stuart Reece, an associate professor from UWA's School of Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences.

The study, published in the British Medical Journal Open in November 2016, observed that regular cannabis use for a longer period hastened the aging process of the respondents. Moreover,

according to Reece, the exposure level to cannabis in the group was higher than reported or seen in earlier studies even for developed countries.

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