A new study on marijuana has ignited debate around the plant’s potential effect on the cardiovascular system. The study, which was led by Barbara Yankey of Georgia State University, evaluated the survey results of over 1,200 people as well as a physical exam they were given in 2005. Participants were asked various questions including whether or not they consumed marijuana. Their results were then compared with the mortality rate of those people in 2011. It concluded that the people who answered that they used marijuana were 3.42 times more likely to suffer from high blood pressure compared to the 1.04 increased risk of the people who didn’t use marijuana in 2005.
Lack of Clarity in the Study
While marijuana advocates believe the results warrant review, they have found many holes in the validity of the study itself. The study does not take lifestyle or exercise into consideration which plays a large role in the development of high blood pressure. It also does not take into account whether the people who consumed marijuana in 2005 continued to consume it or whether they stopped. The method of consumption has been neglected to be reviewed as well so it’s unclear whether the plant was eaten or smoked. These factors lend a strong sense of doubt over the clarity of the study’s results.
Professional Response to the Study
According to The Oregonian, Dr. Vinay Prasad, associate professor of medicine at Oregon Health & Science University, who also happens to be an expert on the design and results of medical studies said, “It does not prove that if you choose to use marijuana you are more likely to die of cardiovascular disease. I think the major limit of the study is that there may be unobserved differences between the people who used and admitted to using marijuana during the years of this study and cardiovascular outcomes that the researchers did not adjust for. In fact, that is likely.”
Previous Studies Don’t Back the Claims of the New Study
In the past, studies have been conducted to see if cannabis use has an impact on the cardiovascular system. Some results indicate that cannabis may increase heart rate or increase the likelihood of developing acute coronary syndrome, yet another study shows marijuana having no impact whatsoever on heart disease or death. In fact, in that study, the risk of heart disease is higher amongst non-users. For this reason, there is no conclusive evidence as to whether or not marijuana has any kind of impact on cardiovascular health previous to this recent study and there is a lot of uncertainty around the results that were ascertained.
With marijuana being legalized for recreational use in 8 states and medicinal use in 29 states, it is important for more thorough research to be conducted so that users have a chance of understanding the specific risks involved in its consumption. The DEA has stated that they will begin to officially approve studies on cannabis that meet the legal requirements they set forth so that people can start to understand the medicinal benefits of the plant on a deeper level.