The legalization of marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes has sparked some debate about its benefits and risks, or lack thereof. And while little was known about its effect on kidney function, in particular, a new study suggests that current or previous marijuana use might not have any link to kidney problems.
As observed by Science Daily, marijuana use has been on the rise in recent years, especially among users 26-years-old and above, whose usage of the drug from 2002 to 2015 has been rising faster than usage among those in the 18-to-25 age bracket. While the substance has been legalized for recreational and/or medicinal use in several states, marijuana has yet to be approved by the U.S. government as a form of medicine, with a lot of its potential side effects having yet to be studied in depth.
Given the lack of data on whether marijuana use can affect kidney function, a team of researchers studied a sample of 14,000 “predominantly healthy” U.S. residents ranging in age from 18 to 59 who took part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2007 to 2014. As part of that survey, the participants were given computer-assisted questionnaires at a mobile examination center, with the questions classifying them in three groups of marijuana users — “never” users, past users, and current users. The “past” group consisted of close to 5,500 people who had admitted to smoking marijuana at least once, but had not consumed the substance in the past month, while the “current” group was made up of more than 2,000 people who, in the month prior to the survey, had smoked marijuana at least once.
After measuring and analyzing the participants’ serum creatinine concentration, the researchers were not able to find anything linking current or past use of marijuana with poor kidney function. There was no link either that associated a history of marijuana use with the chances of developing chronic kidney disease at stage 2 and beyond. Furthermore, the researchers were not able to link marijuana use with microalbuminuria, a key kidney disease marker distinguished by “moderate” increases in urine albumin levels.
“Our research provides some reassuring evidence suggesting that there is no determinantal effect of infrequent, relatively light use of marijuana on kidney function among healthy adults under age 60,” said lead researcher Dr. Murray Mittleman, a professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
The new research on marijuana use and kidney function, which was published in the American Journal of Medicine, comes about a week after two studies offered more encouraging news to those who advocate for its legalization. Both studies were published in the journal Addiction, and noted that marijuana legalization for medical purposes is not necessarily a sign that more teenagers will engage in recreational use, contrary to the concerns of many opponents of marijuana legalization, as reported by the Inquisitr.