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Marijuana Use and the Danger of Bone Disease

a doctor explains the link between marijuana use and bone disease to a patient

According to an article in the American Journal of Medicine, scientists at the University of Edinburgh performed a study that suggests that regular, heavy smoking of marijuana can cause users to suffer from decreased bone density—putting them at elevated risk of bone fracture. Heavy marijuana users’ bone density is 5% less than tobacco smokers who don’t consume marijuana.

While the link between marijuana and bone disease is still being explored, heavy marijuana use can cause impairment in work, school, and home life. Finding marijuana addiction treatment can help you stop compulsively using marijuana and build a healthier tomorrow.

What Is Decreased Bone Density?

Decreased bone density, also known as osteoporosis, is a condition in which the bones become weak and are more susceptible to fracture. Osteoporosis is often associated with aging but can occur at any age. People with osteoporosis typically have bones that are less dense and more fragile than healthy bones.

Some symptoms of osteoporosis include:

  • Bone pain
  • Stooped posture
  • Fractures (breaks) that occur more easily than usual

In fact, according to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, just 10% of bone loss causes a risk of vertebral fractures that is doubled and a 250% greater risk of hip fractures.

Facts About Osteoporosis

A reduction in bone density can cause severe impacts on a person’s life. Since this typically occurs with aging, falls and fractures put people with osteoporosis at an increased risk for complications during the healing process.

Osteoporosis significantly impacts society in different ways, including:

  • One-third of all women over 50 will suffer an osteoporotic fracture.
  • Women over the age of 45 spend more time in the hospital because of osteoporosis than for diabetes, heart attack, or breast cancer.
  • Over 60% of osteoporotic fractures happen to women.
  • 20% of men over 50 will suffer an osteoporotic fracture.
  • Compared to 1990, the incidence of hip fractures among men is projected to rise by 310% by 2050.
  • Within 12 months following a hip fracture, 20% of men die—their mortality rate is higher than that for women.

Can Marijuana Cause Bone Disease?

The Edinburgh study also revealed that heavy marijuana smokers typically have lower body weights and a lower body mass index (BMI). A reduced BMI often leads to thinner bones and elevated osteoporosis risk.

Marijuana also significantly impacts testosterone production, which is a leading risk factor for developing osteoporosis. Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone and helps to maintain bone density, muscle mass, and sex drive.

It’s important to note the link between marijuana use and bone disease is not definite. The condition is most likely to occur in heavy users who smoke regularly.

Links Other than Cannabis Use and Bone Disease

There are other concerns that indicate the complicated connection between different substance use disorders and other health conditions. Researchers at the City University of New York and the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University discovered that people who smoke marijuana are five times more likely to develop an alcohol use disorder.

Alcohol abuse also increases the risk of osteoporosis. “Alcohol has multiple effects on calcium. The bones deteriorate because not enough calcium is getting into bones—and the body is leaching it away from bones,” says osteoporosis specialist Dr. Primal Kaur, M.D., of Philadelphia’s Temple University Health System. When you consider all the risk factors—chronic marijuana use, a greater propensity of cross-addiction to alcohol, and the natural bone loss that occurs with aging—the potential bone loss should be cause for concern.

Marijuana Help from Northpoint Recovery

If you’re struggling with addiction and are concerned about the link between marijuana and bone disease, professional treatment can help you get your life back on track. At Northpoint Recovery, we offer a variety of evidence-based treatment options that are designed to meet your unique needs.

Our experienced and compassionate team can provide you with the tools and resources you need to overcome addiction and build a foundation for long-term recovery. Contact us online or call 888.296.8976 today to learn more.