Physical effects of marijuana

Supporters of marijuana argue that it does not cause any health problems and is less of a problem than alcohol. They also argue that it has a range of medical benefits such as easing the symptoms of various diseases, e.g. multiple sclerosis.

It is considered to have therapeutic qualities and can be used to treat several mental and physical disorders.

If you want to know more then visit our medical use of marijuana section.

But aside from the issue of medical marijuana there still remains the issue of whether it damages the health or not.

There is research which suggests that this is the case. It argues that marijuana has an adverse affect on the body which becomes apparent over a long period of time.

It causes problems for people who already suffer from a medical condition for example, someone who has heart disease. Marijuana speeds up the heart rate which forces the heart to work harder. This puts a strain on the heart which is risky for anyone whose heart is functioning less than normal.

Effects on physical health

If marijuana is smoked then the physical effects occur almost instantaneously. The blood vessels in the eyes dilate causing the eyes to look ‘bloodshot’; the airways relax and expand; the heart rate increases and blood pressure drops.

Marijuana affects many areas of the body but the following areas are those which are most likely to be affected. They are discussed in more detail within this section:

Other physical effects include those which occur due to using marijuana during pregnancy; the impact upon the immune system and the risk of cancer from smoking marijuana.

Marijuana and cancer and marijuana and pregnancy are discussed separately.

But does marijuana have a physical effect on the immune system?

Marijuana and the immune system

Studies have found that tetrahydrocannabinols (THC’s) present within marijuana appear to suppress the immune system, which increases the risk of a disease or infection.

The immune system helps to protect the body against illness or infection; but if it is compromised in any way then this allows bacteria and viruses to invade which cause a range of problems.

Is there a risk of cancer with marijuana?

There have been studies which suggest a link between smoking marijuana and lung cancer. This refers to those people who add marijuana to tobacco and smoke this combination as a cigarette.

There are risks with smoking which have been well documented over the years. Tobacco contains a number of chemicals some of which are known carcinogens which means that they have the ability to cause cancer.

This does not mean that they will automatically do so; it just means that smoking cigarettes increases the risk of cancer along with other illnesses.

How does this relate to marijuana?

People who smoke marijuana ingest less of this than people who smoke tobacco. But, unfortunately, marijuana smoke contains a greater number of carcinogens which are likely to cause damage.

Plus many marijuana users inhale for longer and deeper than tobacco smokers which increase the length of time their lungs are exposed to these harmful chemicals.

Marijuana smokers are at risk of developing a nicotine addiction.

Further research is needed in order to prove (or disprove) a link between marijuana smoking and cancer. There is evidence to show a possible risk but this is inconclusive.

(Source: Cancer Research UK)

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