Marijuana Health Risk
In today’s world with medical marijuana legal in California, we may lose sight of the risk of using marijuana as well. What follow’s are the adverse health effects of marijuana. Each section includes a link to the information being provided.
Smoking And High Cholesterol
If you have high cholesterol, you might not realize that this combination can be especially dangerous to your heart. If you smoke and have high cholesterol, you have a much greater risk for heart attack and stroke than if you have only one of these risk factors.
Smoking damages the body’s arteries and blood vessels, increasing the risk for plaque buildup. It also reduces the amount of high-density lipoproteins (HDL) — the “good” cholesterol — in your blood. This is a problem because HDLs absorb cholesterol and carry it back to the liver, where it is flushed from the body. High levels of HDLs in the blood protect against heart disease.
Even light or occasional smoking can lead to heightened cholesterol problems, further, raising the risk for heart problems. The good news is that quitting smoking completely can significantly improve your levels of HDL cholesterol, which helps protect your heart.
The combination of smoking and having high cholesterol dramatically increases the risk of heart attack. One-third of all deaths from cardiovascular disease are caused by smoking.
“The risk is already significant for smokers who don’t have high cholesterol, and it increases significantly if they have a high lipid [cholesterol and triglycerides] profile, they smoke, are male, or have diabetes,” says Dr. Damle. “When you combine these factors, the risk increases exponentially.”
“Smoking creates an environment in the bloodstream that leads to a destructive breakdown [of cholesterol], making LDL even more toxic to blood vessels, increasing deposits of plaque in the arteries, and increasing inflammation,” Dr. Newby says. Stopping smoking yields immediate and long-term benefits for your cholesterol levels, and lowers your risk for having a heart attack.
High Cholesterol, HDL, LDL & Triglycerides
Although triglycerides may not receive as much attention as HDL and LDL cholesterol, these blood fats can greatly increase your risk of heart disease when elevated. Triglyceride levels vary throughout the day, increasing after a meal and after foods containing simple sugar and excessive carbohydrates. Because smoking raises triglycerides, the American Heart Association recommends smoking cessation as one tool — along with dietary and other lifestyle modifications — for keeping triglycerides in check.
Chronic exposure to cannabis smoke has also been associated with the development of pre-cancerous changes in bronchial and epithelium cells in similar rates to tobacco smokers.
Adverse Effects of Marijuana
- Heart Rate
Marijuana increases heart rate and mildly increases in blood pressure, which combines to force the heart to work more strenuously. Compared with non-users, those who smoked marijuana weekly had a 2.5 fold greater likelihood of heart attack, and those who smoked more than one time per week had a 4.2 fold increased risk.
Marijuana is well known to cause fluctuations in mood and anxiety, but the extent to which these fluctuations persist beyond the period of marijuana use is unclear (de Graaf, Radovanovic et al.). Studies show an increase in anxiety and depressive disorders among frequent marijuana users. (Bovasso 2001). In other words, we cannot yet determine whether marijuana causes an increase in depression and anxiety, or whether individuals who suffer from depression and anxiety tend to use more marijuana (Degenhardt, Hall et al. 2003). However, heavier marijuana use has been shown to increase the association with anxiety and depression and weekly or more frequent cannabis use in teenagers predicts an approximately twofold increase in risk for later depression and anxiety (Degenhardt, Hall et al. 2001; Patton, Coffey et al. 2002)
In sufficient doses, marijuana can cause psychosis (Moore, Zammit et al. 2007), a state of mind characterized by the inability to distinguish between what is real and what is not. Psychosis is concerning for three reasons: First, the loss of connection to reality can be an emotionally terrifying experience. Second, psychosis can stimulate unsafe behavior when the lack of connection to reality inhibits the ability to determine what is safe and what is not. Third, there is mounting evidence that psychosis itself is harmful to the brain, and may actually predispose the brain to psychotic disorders (Perkins, Gu et al. 2005).
In addition to causing psychosis, marijuana may also contribute to the development of lifelong psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia (Degenhardt, Hall et al. 2003). Schizophrenia is a disorder characterized by deterioration in thinking, disturbances in perception, and impairments in social function. Marijuana can unmask symptoms among individuals who have a pre-existing vulnerability (such as a family history) to schizophrenia (Arseneault, Cannon et al. 2004).
- Social Interaction
A relationship between marijuana and poor educational attainment has been repeatedly demonstrated across many studies (Hall, Degenhardt et al. 2001). The relationship appears to hold even when confounding variables are statistically controlled Fergusson, Horwood et al. 2003). School performance is a function of many factors, but it is likely that the short-term effects of marijuana intoxication exacerbate existing school difficulties, and push poor performance into school failure. On the other hand, analysis of behavioral, socioeconomic, and health outcomes at age 29 all reveal that abstainers consistently have the most favorable outcomes, whereas early high users consistently have the least favorable outcomes (Ellickson, Martino et al. 2004).
Many users would say they use marijuana to be more social and to avoid anxiety. Research shows the opposite result in the long run.
Signs of Marijuana Abuse
- Bloodshot eyes
- Increased appetite
- Lack of motivation
- Weight gain
- Nervous or paranoid behavior
- Impaired coordination
- Slowed reaction time
- Panic Attacks
- Elevated Heart Rate
- Impaired Cognition
- Impaired Motor Function
- Mood Swings
- Lung Infections
- Reduced Ability To Learn
- Inhibited Mental Development
- Memory Loss