Smoking marijuana excessively during teenage years could lead to early death, according to a new study. Teenagers are also more prone to being addicted to marijuana due to their brain structure.
A 42-year study observed more than 45,000 men from Sweden who underwent mandatory military training from 1969 to 1970. Researchers followed the participants on the National Cause of Death Register until 2011.
Published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, researchers found that the men who heavily used marijuana during their late teenage years were 40 percent more likely to die by the age of 60 compared to participants who never used marijuana. Heavy use of cannabis was defined as using marijuana for more than 50 times. The study by the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm also found that the risk of death due to accident or suicide was directly proportion to marijuana use in men during teens, according to Daily Mail.
Users of marijuana generally have poorer health as the substance has been linked to heart problems and lung cancer, according to Scoot Krakower, an addiction expert. Krakower said that many marijuana users are also tobacco smokers.
One of the key messages of study is that doses matter, according to Dr. Kevin Hill from the American Psychiatric Association's Council. Hill also said that since heavy marijuana use at a young age lead to poor psychological health and cognitive problems, this might have also lead to poor food and health choices.
Young people are more vulnerable to the risks of marijuana use because their brains are still developing, according to USA Today. The brain does not fully mature until the age of 25 which explains why teens who use marijuana frequently often have significant decline in their IQ as adults.
Around 12 percent of people from the U.S. older than 12 years old have used marijuana in the past year, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Nearly 17 percent of teenagers become addicted to marijuana while 9 percent of people who experiment with marijuana overall become addicted.
Marijuana use has been on the rise since the 1990s as 2.7 million people in the U.S. fit the criteria for addiction to the substance based on a 2012 survey. If current trends continue, marijuana use among high schools student could soon become more common than smoking cigarettes.
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