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Study Shows Long Term Weed Use Gives You Gross Gums – But Not Much Else

According to the experts, even your lungs don't get a raw deal.

Photo by Miranda Nelson via Flickr

As long as you don't mind being middle-aged with shit teeth and consistently bloody gums, weed experts say you're pretty much fine to continue down that path of smoking yourself into oblivion. Sort of.

According to a new study, long-term cannabis use is associated with few actual health problems by the time you're in early middle-age. Researchers found that across a dozen measures, you'd be fine – but users did suffer poor gum health. The study, published by JAMA Psychiatry, followed more than 1,000 New Zealanders from the ages of 18 to 38, tracking their self-proclaimed cannabis use. The study compared the health of weed users to that of regular tobacco smokers and found that, in comparison, tobacco was associated with far more problems, including worse lung function and metabolic health.


So just how bad is this gum situation? According to the study, 55.61 percent of people with more than 15 years of regular weed use had periodontal disease – AKA the loss of gum support around a tooth – compared to only 13.53 percent of those who had never used cannabis before. Poor periodontal health means tooth loosening and loss.

"One thing that surprised me is that we didn't see associations between cannabis use and poorer lung function," said Madeline Meier, a professor of psychology at Arizona State University and one of the paper's authors. However, she did note that previous research on the same sample of New Zealanders has shown that heavy weed smoking is associated with increased risk of psychotic illness, IQ decline and downward socioeconomic mobility. Not so positive. Meier said that more research is needed to discover how long-term cannabis use can affect older people – studies which don't currently exist. Until then, you've got this fun ultimatum to brew over.

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