Marijuana is becoming increasingly popular and legal in various parts of the United States.
According to recent data, about 18% of all Americans have tried it at least once.
But what does marijuana use mean for our health? A new study from Northwestern Medicine gives us a clue.
Marijuana Use in America
Marijuana is a green, brown, or gray mix of dried leaves from the plant Cannabis sativa. Some people smoke it in hand-rolled cigarettes called joints.
Others use a water pipe called a bong. Some people make marijuana tea or mix it into foods.
In 2019, nearly 48.2 million people in America used marijuana. That’s about 18% of the population.
These figures came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They show that marijuana is the most used drug in the country.
Despite its popularity, scientists don’t know much about the health effects of marijuana. Some states have even made it legal to use the drug.
But what happens inside our bodies when we use marijuana? That’s what the scientists at Northwestern Medicine wanted to find out.
The Study on Marijuana
The study team was led by Dr. Lifang Hou, a specialist in cancer research. They studied blood samples from over 900 adults.
These samples were taken five years apart. All the adults had taken part in an earlier study on heart health.
The team asked each person about their recent use of marijuana. They also tried to estimate how much marijuana each person had used over their lifetime. Then, they looked at the DNA in the blood samples.
What Did They Find?
The team found something interesting in the DNA of the people who used marijuana. They found changes in a process called DNA methylation.
This is when small chemical groups attach to our DNA. These changes can switch certain genes on or off.
In total, the team found between 16 and 132 markers of DNA methylation linked to marijuana use. Many of these markers were in parts of the DNA linked to cell growth, hormone signaling, and infections.
They were also in areas linked to mental health problems. This includes conditions like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and substance use disorders.
What Does It Mean?
This study doesn’t prove that marijuana causes these genetic changes. Nor does it prove that these changes lead to health problems.
But it does show that there’s a link. And that’s something scientists will want to look at in more detail in the future.
The findings could also help future research into the effects of marijuana use. More studies are needed to confirm these findings and see if they apply to different groups of people.
It’s also important to study how marijuana use might affect our health as we get older.
In conclusion, this research gives us a better understanding of how marijuana use might affect our bodies. But there’s still a lot we don’t know.
As marijuana becomes more popular and legal, it’s important that we continue to study its effects. This will help us make informed decisions about its use.
If you care about cannabis, please read studies that what you need to know about cannabis and heart attack, and CBD from cannabis may help inhibit COVID-19 infection.
For more information about health, please see recent studies that medical cannabis could help reduce depression, improve quality of life, and results showing this stuff in cannabis may protect the aging brain, and treat Alzheimer’s.
The study was published in Molecular Psychiatry.
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