Occasionally hitting a joint isn't associated with having kidney problems, according to a new study, which comes at a time of heated discussion about the health benefits and hazards of using marijuana, especially amid its widespread legalization in the United States.
There's very little information about the effects of marijuana to a person's kidneys, but the aforementioned study sheds light on that. Previous or current marijuana usage might not have any connections to kidney disease, it suggests.
Smoking Marijuana Isn't Linked To Kidney Disease
The study's results are published in The American Journal of Medicine, as reported by Science Daily. In recent years, marijuana use has become widespread, especially among middle-aged individuals and above. Marijuana has been approved for either medical or recreational use, but the U.S. government has yet to regard it as a legitimate form of medicine partly because its effects still require further and rigorous study.
The researchers focused on the nephrological effects of marijuana use, studying 14,000 "predominantly healthy" individuals in the United States aged 18 to 59 who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2007 to 2014. The survey asked them to describe their marijuana use: "never," "past," or "current."
The researchers then measured the participants' serum creatinine concentration and found no links between current or past marijuana use to impaired kidney function, or more specifically, the risk of developing chronic kidney disease. Plus they found no links between marijuana use and microalbuminuria, a kidney disease marker signaled by increased levels of albumin in urine.
Don't Get Excited Yet
While the results are encouraging, the researchers were quick to note that their study does not delve into heavy users of marijuana, elder people, and those who already have some form of chronic kidney disease.
"Research is needed to evaluate the impact of marijuana use in adults 60 and over, and among those with existing or at risk of developing kidney disease," said Murray A. Mittleman, the lead investigator who holds key positions inside Harvard University.
For proponents of the legalization of marijuana, this is encouraging news that will certainly alleviate the stigma toward the drug. It follows two more studies about marijuana use, one of which claims that the legalization of marijuana for medical use doesn't mean more teenagers will begin consuming it, which goes against what some anti-marijuana activists purport.
It'll be a long path toward total erasure of stigma, and who knows if somewhere along the way studies prove that there could indeed be harmful effects in excessive marijuana use. For now, the study in question is a step toward an expanded understanding of marijuana use.