New Studies

Why are there so many conflicting marijuana studies?

Originally posted at The Cannabist.

The relationship of marijuana use to public health is one of the most confounding topics in science. As soon as one study is published making a claim about the safety of the drug, another is often published warning of the exact opposite.

Take, for instance, the link between marijuana use and cardiovascular disease. Last week, a study was released detailing a review of outpatient hospital data, including more than 20 million health records and 316,000 people who reported using marijuana. The study found that using the drug was associated with 26 percent increased risk of stroke and a 10 percent increased risk of developing heart failure – independent of other health factors such as tobacco use, hypertension, diabetes and obesity. While the study hasn’t yet been peer reviewed (it will be presented this weekend at the American College of Cardiology’s annual meeting), it’s attractive given the massive amount of data.

The problem is that its conclusion directly contradicts a number of other large, recent studies looking at the same question. One longitudinal study published last month looking at more than 5,000 subjects over a period of more than two decades found no association between marijuana use and cardiovascular disease. Another longitudinal study from Sweden published last month reviewing more than 50,000 men found similar results.

These are by no means the only studies on this topic. You can spend a whole day reading through the literature on this question and still not find a clear answer. Read the entire article at The Cannabist.

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