Scientists: cannabis causes gum disease and tooth loss

By Margarita Snegireva. Researchers proved that smoking marijuana, like smoking tobacco, may increase a person's risk for gum disease that can lead to tooth loss.

A study of 903 New Zealanders found that people who smoked marijuana frequently had triple the risk for severe gum disease and a 60 percent higher risk for a milder form of it compared to people who did not smoke the drug, also called cannabis.

People who smoked marijuana less frequently had a smaller increased risk for gum disease, the researchers said.

Whilst some studies and tests have proven inconclusive,a recent study by the Canadian government found cannabis contained more toxic substances than tobacco smoke. It contained 20 times more ammonia, (a carcinogen) and five times more of hydrogen cyanide (which can cause heart disease) and of nitrogen oxides, (which can cause lung damage) than tobacco smoke. Cannabis use has been linked to psychosis by several peer-reviewed studies. A 1987 Swedish study claiming a link between cannabis use and schizophrenia was criticized for not differentiating between cannabis use and the use of other narcotics, and its results have not been verified by other studies. More recently, the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study published research showing an increased risk of psychosis for cannabis users with a certain genetic predisposition, held by 25% of the population. In 2007, a study published in The Lanc e t and a poll of mental health experts showed that a growing number of medical health practitioners are convinced that cannabis use increases susceptibility to mental illness, accounting for 14% of United Kingdom psychosis cases; however, the risk to an individual smoking cannabis is only increased by 2%.

Although long terms effects of cannabis use is polarised in the scientific community preventing any firm consensus of its effects, short term effects are well documented. Effects such as short-term memory and attention loss, loss of motor skills and dexterity, reduced reaction time, and lower abilities to perform skilled activities can be hazardous to human life if combined with potentially hazardous activities such as driving. Cannabis use can also lead to anxiety and panic reactions. There is also evidence that some of the above effect can become permanent with heavy usage.

Multiple studies have shown that chronic heavy cannabis smoking is associated with increased symptoms of chronic bronchitis, such as coughing, production of sputum, and wheezing. Lung function is also significantly poorer and there is a significantly greater amount of abnormalities in the large airways of marijuana smokers than in non-smokers.

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