Marijuana Smoking Increases Risk of Gum Disease

The health consequences of marijuana use are often under question, with many claiming that there is often more benefit than harm involved in smoking pot. A recent New Zealand study has shown that for young people, marijuana smoking increases risk of gum disease, much in the same way cigarette smoking does.

The study monitored 903 individuals over approximately 32 years, with regular check-ups from birth to approximately 32 years of age. At 18 years of age, marijuana use began being accounted for, and in taking into account other lifestyle choices (such as cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, drug use and any health and dental problems), it was found that heavy marijuana smokers were over 60% more likely to develop gum problems by their early thirties than non-smokers. Tests were conducted at 18, 21, 26 and 32 years of age.

Of the 903 participants, 182 (20.2%) had “high exposure” to marijuana, 428 (47.4%) had some exposure, and 293 (32.3%) had no exposure at all to marijuana.

Heavy exposure smokers were 60% more likely to have developed at least the early stages of periodontal disease (an inflammatory disease of the gums that can result in destroyed tissue and can be very serious), and were more than twice as likely to lose teeth due to gum problems.

Cigarette smoking and chewing tobacco use have long been recognized as major contributors to gum disease. The study mentioned above is the first to show the direct connection between marijuana use and gum disease. Marijuana is the most popular recreational drug used worldwide, and while the debate continues on as to its potential benefits (such as for glaucoma patients), this study gives a strong account of one of its health risks.

Source: Defeat Diabetes Foundation: Thomson, Murray. Poultan, Richie. et al. JAMA. “Cannabis Smoking and Periodontal Disease Among Young Adults.” Febuary 2008.

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