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Smoking, according to US researchers, does not lead to long-term health consequences
Those who consume cannabis later have an increased risk of lung damage, respiratory diseases and psychoses. Many doctors and experts hold this opinion and refer to various test results. Now, a long-term study by the University of Pittsburgh has brought new insights that turn the prevailing theory upside down. According to this, there is no greater risk of late health consequences for smoking teenagers than for non-consumers.
Smoking hashish at higher risk of psychosis?
Whether bronchitis or asthma, schizophrenic hallucinations, delusions or depression: those who smoke frequently risk serious health problems and mental disorders. At least that is the common opinion of many experts and even proponents of hemp smoking often admit that cannabis is not harmless. But now a US long-term study in the journal "Psychology of Addictive Behaviors" is causing a stir, because the connection may not be as clear as previously thought. According to a report by the University of Pittsburgh, the risk of late health effects among male cannabis users in teenage age is not demonstrably higher than among non-smokers of the same age.
Investigation started in the 1980s
The study reportedly started in the late 1980s. The researchers observed and analyzed the health and social behavior of 14-year-old male students from Pittsburgh and conducted renewed surveys at intervals of six to six months over a period of twelve years. In the years 2009/10, a so-called “follow-up study” was carried out in the meanwhile 36 year old men, in which the state of health was recorded by a total of 408 participants.
Researchers divide subjects into four groups depending on their consumption
Based on individual consumption, the scientists divided four groups, with most of the participants counting as low users or abstainers (46 percent) and early long-term users (22 percent). A small proportion (11%) of the test subjects only smoked in adolescence, while 21 percent had only become consumers at a later age, but remained so. Early, long-term users had reported significantly higher marijuana consumption, which quickly rose to an "average" of more than 200 days a year by the age of 22. Subsequently, however, consumption in this group declined somewhat, the message said.
However, despite the different behavior, the scientists could not identify a significantly increased health risk during their follow-up examination at the age of 36. Instead, contrary to expectations, psychotic symptoms and physical complaints such as asthma did not occur more frequently among the long-term users. In addition, the study found no connection between adolescent marijuana smoking and permanent depression, anxiety, allergies, headaches or high blood pressure, the university said.
The study director himself is surprised by the result
A result that the experts apparently did not expect: "What we found was a little surprising," said researcher and research director Jordan Bechtold from the University of Pittsburgh. "There were no measurable differences in mental or physical health regardless of how often and how much marijuana was consumed in adolescence."
According to Bechtold, the study is one of the few studies on the long-term health effects of early cannabis use, for which hundreds of subjects have been observed for more than two decades of their lives. However, there were weaknesses, since only men had participated, for example, although research now knows about the greater consequences of drug use among women. In addition, the state of health was only checked at the age of 36, which means that consequential damage that may occur later could not be recorded. As a result, distortions cannot be ruled out, the researchers write.
"We wanted to help inform in the course of the debate about the legalization of marijuana, but it is a very complicated topic and a study should not be viewed in isolation," said Bechtold. (No)