Most doctors will tell you: Heavy alcohol use is bad, and heavy tobacco use is even worse.

If you smoke a considerable amount of cigarettes, your risk for a bevy of health issues, including heart disease, cancer and stroke, is considerably increased.

But marijuana? Hardly a concern at all—at least when it comes to stroke.

According to a study involving almost 50,000 people in Sweden, published in the journal of the American Heart Association, marijuana use is not associated with any additional risk of stroke.

We found no evident association between cannabis use in young adulthood and stroke, including strokes before 45 years of age,” study authors wrote in their conclusion, published last week. 

Cigarettes, however? Yes, definitely.

“Tobacco smoking, however, showed a clear, dose-response shaped association with stroke,” they wrote.

A stroke is when the blood supply to the brain is cut off, due to a blocked or burst blood vessel, which then causes brain tissue to die. 

Like most clinical reviews, the study does have some limitations. The study was a review of Swedish men born between 1949 and 1951. Their cannabis-use habits differed from, say, modern-day users in America, where cannabis potency and consumption habits vary from baby-boomer Europeans.

The study did find an increased risk of stroke for anyone who had used cannabis more than 50 times—but that was only for those who also used tobacco. As soon as the study controlled for tobacco, “the risk was attenuated,” study authors found.

While we’re on the subject: Moderate or light cannabis use is not associated with increased risk of lung cancer or emphysema, either. According to a longitudinal study conducted by UCLA researcher Donald Tashkin, regular marijuana smoking does lead to an increased risk of chronic bronchitis—which goes away after users put down the pipe and give themselves a chance to take a breath.

Other doctors aren’t so sure—and no doctors say you should start smoking copious amounts of cannabis for health.

We do not know if smoking a small amount of marijuana (for example, light users who smoke an amount equal to 1-2 joints a month) over a long period of time increases your risk for developing COPD,” the American Thoracic Society says. “We do know that in some people (especially those with lung problems), smoking marijuana can make their breathing worse.”

(Photo: Star Dawg Guava The Clinic Colorado)

For all HIGH TIMES’ medical marijuana coverage, click here.

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