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Heavy Cannabis Use Not Independently Associated With Cardiovascular Risks

Thursday, 10 August 2006

Heavy Cannabis Use Not Independently Associated With Cardiovascular Risks

San Francisco, CA
: Heavy marijuana use is not independently associated with high blood pressure or other cardiovascular risk factors, according the findings of a 15-year longitudinal study published in the August issue of the American Journal of Cardiology.

Investigators at the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco, assessed the association between marijuana use and caloric intake, body mass index (BMI) and cardiovascular risk factors in 3,617 young adults participating in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults project (CARDIA). Though heavy self-reported use of cannabis was associated with higher caloric intake (3,365 calories per day in those who used cannabis >/= 1,800 days over a 15 year period versus 2,746 calories per day in non-users), marijuana use alone was not associated with higher levels of triglycerides, atherosclerosis, or blood pressure among respondents.

Investigators did note that the heavy use of cannabis and alcohol together was positively associated with cardiovascular risk factors.

A previous review of cannabis use and cardiotoxicity published earlier this year in the journal Forensic Science, Medicine and Pathology reported that moderate marijuana use likely poses little cardiovascular risk in humans.

In human trials, cannabis smoking is typically associated with a dose-dependent increase in heart rate and blood pressure in marijuana-naive subjects, though users often become completely tolerant to these effects over time. By contrast, cannabinoid administration in animals is typically associated with vasodilation, transient bradycardia and hypotension. The administration of synthetic cannabinoids has also been shown to lower blood pressure in animals and has not been associated with cardiotoxicity in humans.

In addition, recent studies demonstrate that anandamide and other endocannabinoids profoundly suppress cardiac contractility in hypertension and can normalize blood pressure.

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Senior Policy Analyst, at (202) 483-5500. Full text of the study, Marijuana use, diet, body mass index, and cardiovascular risk, appears in the August issue of the American Journal of Cardiology.