A new reliable study led by researchers from Stanford University found a strong link between an increased risk of heart attack and regular marijuana use. Research shows that THC can cause inflammation in blood vessel cells, and researchers are urging medical marijuana consumers to be aware of the potential risks to the cardiovascular system.
Published in a journal Cell, a new study first analyzed data from about 500,000 people looking at the link between marijuana use and heart attack. After monitoring age, sex, and body weight, data showed that subjects who smoked marijuana more than once a month were significantly more likely to have a heart attack before the age of 50 compared to those who did not.
The next step was to investigate how marijuana could increase a person’s risk of heart attack. Focusing specifically on THC, the researchers found that the cannabinoid did promote inflammation in human endothelial cells grown in the lab. Inflammation of endothelial cells – the cells that line the blood vessels and the heart – is a key indicator of heart disease.
“Marijuana has a significant adverse effect on the cardiovascular system,” said one of the lead authors of the new study, Mark Chandi. “As more states legalize marijuana use, I expect that in the coming years we will begin to see an increase in heart attacks and strokes. Our studies of human cells and mice clearly show how THC exposure initiates a destructive molecular cascade in blood vessels. This is not a benign drug. “
The final part of the study was an investigation to find molecules that could block the pro-inflammatory properties of THC without interrupting the psychoactive effects of the drug. The main action of THC is binding to CB1 receptors, so the researchers used machine learning to test a huge amount of molecules that are known to bind to CB1 and block the effects of THC.
One of the molecules that stood out was a natural substance called genistein. Genistein found in soybeans does not effectively cross the blood-brain barrier, so researchers have suggested that it may block the inflammatory effects of THC on endothelial cells while maintaining the psychoactive effects of THC on the brain. Subsequent studies in mice confirmed the hypothesis, showing that genistein reduces endothelial dysfunction in mice treated with THC without impairing the effect of the drug on the central nervous system of the animal.
“We have not seen a blockade of the usual analgesic or sedative effect of THC in mice that contribute to the potentially beneficial healing properties of marijuana,” Chandi added. “Thus, genistein is a potentially safer drug than previous CB1 antagonists. It’s already being used as a dietary supplement, and 99 percent of it stays outside the brain, so it shouldn’t cause these particular adverse side effects. ”
According to the researchers, more thorough clinical research is needed to examine the effects of genistein on marijuana users and the risk of cardiovascular disease. Researchers also suggest that CBD, another key cannabinoid in marijuana, may also have anti-inflammatory effects that may counteract the potential cardiovascular effect of THC.
Previous studies have examined the negative psychiatric effects of marijuana proposed to increase the volume of THC in modern cannabis strains can lead to higher rates of adverse mental health problems. CBD, on the other hand, is a a known antipsychotic therefore it may be crucial to balance the levels of these two cannabinoids in medical marijuana strains.
Joseph Wu, senior author of the new study, said it was important for marijuana users for medical and recreational purposes to be aware of the possible adverse effects of the drug on the cardiovascular system. And moving forward will be very important to develop ways to mitigate these adverse effects.
“There is a growing public belief that marijuana is harmless or even beneficial,” Wu said. “Marijuana obviously has important medical uses, but recreational users need to think carefully about overuse.”
A new study was published in the journal Cell.
Source: Stanford Medicine
Stanford study links marijuana use to increased risk of heart attack
Source link Stanford study links marijuana use to increased risk of heart attack