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Daily marijuana use raises risk of heart disease by 34%, study indicates

A woman smokes marijuana in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City on Jan. 24.  (Timothy A. Clary/GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/TNS)
By Hunter Boyce Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Daily marijuana use can raise a person’s risk of coronary artery disease by a third, according to a recent study lead by Dr. Ishan Paranjpe, a resident physician at Stanford University.

“A growing body of evidence suggests that cannabis is not entirely without harm and may actually cause cardiovascular disease,” Paranjpe told CNN. “Thus, the decision to use cannabis must be carefully weighed against the potential for serious heart disease.”

The study has not yet been published and will be presented on Sunday at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology.

Researchers used data from the All of Us Research Program to determine that daily cannabis users were 34% more likely to be diagnosed with coronary artery disease than those that have never used cannabis. Those that used the drug once a month or less were found to be at no significant risk.

Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common type of heart disease within the U.S. and sometimes goes unnoticed until the affected suffers a heart attack, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overweight, physical inactivity, unhealthy eating, and smoking tobacco are all risk factors for CAD, which often comes with symptoms of chest pain, nausea, light headedness, shortness of breath and pain in the arms or shoulders.

The study utilized a method often unused on the topic of marijuana and heart health, Mendelian randomization (MR) – which measures gene variations with a relation to modifiable risk factors.

“While other work has also linked cannabis with CAD, there are several potential confounders that may explain this relationship,” Paranjpe said. “Our MR analysis suggests this relationship may be directly causal.”

The researchers argued that future research should investigate how the various marijuana usage methods affect heart health, as the study was unable to prove whether different types of usage alter a user’s risk of developing CAD.