Navigating the medical properties of cannabis can be difficult, with studies being constantly released that either promote or discredit the efficacy and safety of medical cannabis. A new study suggests that any level of consumption triples the risk of hypertension and cardiovascular disease, but some doctors are calling the results inconclusive, at best.
The study was first published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology on August 8, 2017. The study was based on data from The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. 1,200 patients were surveyed in 2005 including questions about cannabis consumption. Researchers compared who had consumed cannabis and then the mortality data for the same group of people in 2011. They found a higher prevalence of cardiovascular health among cannabis consumers compared to non-consumers.
Dr. Vinay Prasad, associate professor of medicine at Oregon Health & Science University is an expert on peer-reviewed medical studies. “It does not prove that if you choose to use marijuana you are more likely to die of cardiovascular disease,” Prasad told the Oregonian. “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.” Diet and exercise, for instance, were not taken into account. Also, consumers who had rarely tried cannabis were labeled as users, raising the question if cannabis had any significant effect at all.
The study conflicts with another 2013 study, published in the American Heart Journal. Those researchers found no link between cannabis consumption and heart disease. “There was no statistically significant association between marijuana use and mortality,” researchers summarized.
Cannabis is a complex plant with complex properties. It is both a sedative and a stimulant that moderately increases heart rate in some cases. It’s important to assess all possible risk factors for any kind of medication.