Researchers say cannabis use may be linked to heart disease

Frequent cannabis smokers were also more likely to have their first heart attack before age 50.

Maria Loreto, The Fresh Toast 3 minute read May 3, 2022

A large study by researchers from Stanford Medicine suggests there is a correlation between smoking cannabis and a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

But investigators further found, as part of a mice study, that use of a molecule called genistein, found in soybeans, may counteract marijuana’s effects.

Per the study, published in Cell magazine, cannabis’s THC causes inflammation in cells located in blood vessels and atherosclerosis in laboratory mice.

Researchers analyzed data from 500,000 people between the ages of 40 and 69. Out of this pool, about 35,000 self-disclosed their cannabis use, detailing how often they consumed weed. Of those, about 11,000 claimed they did so more than once a month.

It was this group that had a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, even when taking into account age, gender and body mass indexes, investigators found. Frequent cannabis smokers were also more likely to have their first heart attack before age 50.

Additionally, researchers conducted a variety of tests on human cells in a lab and on mice, finding that THC promotes inflammation in both groups, something that increases the odds of heart disease. It also ups the odds of atherosclerosis, a build-up of fat in the artery walls.

Experts had differing opinions on what this means for public health and marijuana’s increasing use. While some advised alternate solutions to counteract the possibilities of heart disease, such as consuming genistein, others held a more negative view of cannabis as a whole.

“Marijuana has a significantly adverse effect on the cardiovascular system,” instructor of medicine Dr. Mark Chandy says in a statement from Stanford.

“As more states legalize marijuana use, I expect we will begin to see a rise in heart attacks and strokes in the coming years. Our studies of human cells and mice clearly outline how THC exposure initiates a damaging molecular cascade in the blood vessels. It’s not a benign drug,” Dr. Chandy argues.

Links between cannabis and negative heart health have been around for years. This influence is not only limited to smoking cannabis — where the smoke affects people’s cardiovascular systems like smoking tobacco does — studies have shown that consuming cannabis in all forms is harmful to the heart.

The FreshToast.com, a U.S. lifestyle site that contributes lifestyle content and, with their partnership with 600,000 physicians via Skipta, medical marijuana information to The GrowthOp.

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