Tempe, AZ: The consumption of cannabis over a two-decade period is not associated with increased cardiovascular risks or lung health problems at mid-life, according to longitudinal data published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
An international team of investigators from the United States and New Zealand assessed the relationship between persistent cannabis use after the age of 18 and overall health at age 38 in a cohort of 1,037 individuals. Specifically, researchers assessed whether long-term cannabis use negatively impacted the following domains: periodontal health, lung function, systemic inflammation, metabolic syndrome, waist circumference, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglyceride level, blood pressure, glycated hemoglobin level, body mass index, and self-reported health.
Researchers reported that long-term cannabis use was only associated with health declines in one domain (periodontal health) after investigators controlled for potential confounding variables, such as concurrent tobacco use. By contrast, authors acknowledged, "[C]annabis use was associated with slightly better metabolic health (smaller waist circumference, lower body mass index, better lipid profiles, and improved glucose control)" - findings that are consistent with prior studies.
"In general, our findings showed that cannabis use over 20 years was unrelated to health problems early in mid-life," authors concluded. "cannabis users were generally no worse off than nonusers on almost all health indexes."
The JAMA paper is one of the first longitudinal studies to characterize the long-term health effects of persistent cannabis use using objective, laboratory-based indexes and examinations.
Full text of the study, "Associations between cannabis use and physical health problems early in midlife: A longitudinal comparison of persistent cannabis vs tobacco users," appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association.