Long-time marijuana smokers have a higher risk of getting gum disease reports a new study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry. However, researchers did not a definitive link between cannabis use and other health-related issues typically associated with smoking cigarettes.

Duke University Professor Avshalom Caspi, a co-author of the study, said marijuana use may “have some adverse consequences,” but this study did not find significant damage to a person’s health. The findings did not reveal any precise relationship between health problems in early midlife and smoking cannabis.

The study links gum disease, but no other condition

Researchers analyzed the health history of 1,037 people born in New Zealand in 1972 or 1973. Using the data, the study examined whether the individuals smoked marijuana regularly between ages 18 and 38, then looked to see if they had any health problems at age 38.Of the people who used cannabis frequently over 15 to 20 years, more than 55 percent of them had gum disease, also known as periodontal disease. Meanwhile, only 13.5 percent of the 38-year-olds who avoided smoking pot had the condition.

The study also found that the marijuana smokers were less likely to brush and floss their teeth as often as the pot-free individuals. According to the research, the less frequent dental care did not account for the increase in the disease, signifying the marijuana use led to the gum damage.

Marijuana compared to tobacco

Also studied were the medical records of 484 people who had smoked traditional cigarettes everyday at some point in their lives. Not surprisingly, the results showed a sharp increase in gum disease in smokers when compared to nonsmokers.In addition, the smokers had more health issues such as diminished lung function, high blood sugar levels, and inflammation than the people who did not smoke.

Yet, the researchers did not find any noteworthy difference in lung function and cardiovascular health problems when they compared the marijuana smokers to the non-pot smokers.

The study authors did warn that the new study had some limitations since the data only looked at specific aspects of the individual’s health at a certain age.

Smoking marijuana could still lead to health problems like cancer and brain changes later on in life, said the researchers.

Periodontal disease makes the gums sore and swollen with a tendency to bleed when brushing. Normally a result of plaque buildup and poor dental hygiene, the condition weakens the tissue that holds teeth in place, eventually causing tooth loss.

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