Pot Smokers May Have Less Inflammation
New York – People who smoke marijuana may have lower levels of inflammation which is linked with the risk of heart disease, scientists have found. Researchers examined data from more than 9,000 people on their history of marijuana use and their levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), one marker of inflammation that is frequently linked with people’s risk of heart disease. The researchers found that people who smoked pot in the last month had lower CRP levels than those who had never smoked the drug, ‘Live Science’ reported.
The new evidence “points toward possible anti-inflammatory effects of cannabis smoking,” the researchers said in the study published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. However, the researchers remain cautious about the possible implications of their findings, as previous research on CRP levels and marijuana use in people has been scarce and the results of other studies have been inconsistent. A previous study of 1,420 young people (whose average age was 14), published in 2013 in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence found that marijuana use was actually linked to higher CRP levels.
That study, however, “was based on a relatively small sample in the Great Smoky Mountains, with relatively large margins of error,” said Omayma Alshaarawy, author of the new study, and a postdoctoral researcher in epidemiology at Michigan State University. In contrast, the new study “is based on quite large national samples with much smaller margins of error. But there still is reason to postpone drawing firm conclusions until more research has been completed,” Alshaarawy said.
The new study was based on data gathered from people ages 20 to 59 from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) that was collected between 2005 and 2010. Based on previous research, Alshaarawy and her colleagues speculated that marijuana’s activation of cannabinoid-2 receptors could mediate the drug’s potential anti-inflammatory effects. It remains unknown how the drug may influence people’s risk of heart disease, which has long been linked with elevated CRP levels.