The question of whether alcohol or marijuana is worse for health is being debated once again.
As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life,” one marijuana doctor said during the interview. I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.
But how apt is the comparison between these substances? While both are intoxicants used recreationally, their legality, patterns of use and long-term effects on the body make the two drugs difficult to compare.
Both alcohol consumption and pot smoking can take a toll on the body, showing both short- and long-term health effects, though alcohol has been linked to some 88,000 deaths per year, according to the CDC, while for a number of reasons those associated with marijuana use are harder to come by. And research into marijuana’s health effects is still in its infancy, compared with the rigorous studies looking at alcohol and human health.
In a recent study, scientists used MRI brain scans to get a better picture of the brains of adults who have smoked weed at least four times a week for years.
Compared to people who rarely or never used the drug, the long-term users tended to have a smaller orbitofrontal cortex, a brain region critical for processing emotions and making decisions. But they also had stronger cross-brain connections, which scientists think smokers may develop to compensate.
Short-term health consequences
7 Ways Alcohol Affects Your Health-Drinking too much alcohol can quickly kill a person. The inability to metabolize alcohol as quickly as it is consumed can lead to a buildup of alcohol in the brain that shuts down areas necessary for survival, such as those involved with heartbeat and respiration.
“You can die drinking five minutes after you’ve been exposed to alcohol. That isn’t going to happen with marijuana,” said a health scientist at the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Marijuana affects the cardiovascular system, increasing heart rate and blood pressure, but a person can’t fatally overdose on pot like they can with alcohol.
Alcohol is more likely than marijuana to interact with other drugs. The way that alcohol is metabolized, or broken down, in the body, is common to many drugs that are taken for a variety of conditions acting director of the Division of Metabolism and Health Effects at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
This means that for people taking drugs or medications while drinking, the alcohol can increase or decrease levels of the active drug in the body.
Because marijuana can impair coordination and balance, there is the risk of hurting oneself, particularly if someone drives or chooses to have unprotected sex while their inhibitions are lowered, Baler said. These are two areas where people using marijuana could hurt themselves for the short and long term.
Long-term health consequences
The long-term effects of drinking heavily are well known. “Excess alcohol is going to lead to very severe consequences, and chronic excess alcoholis the most likely to lead to a lot of threatening issues.
Drinking can lead to alcoholic liver disease, which can progress to fibrosis of the liver, which in turn can potentially lead to liver cancer.
The THC content of marijuana across the US has tripled since 1995, according to a large recent study in which researchers reviewed close to 39,000 samples of cannabis. While THC levels hovered around 4%, on average, in 1995, they skyrocketed to roughly 12% in 2014.
I emphasize it’s not even clear to the best scientists what are the triggers that allow that progression to happen,” he said, noting that why some people have a higher risk than others of developing liver disease from drinking is not understood medically or biochemically.
Unlike alcohol the effects of chronic marijuana use are not as well established. Animal studies have indicated some possible impact on reproduction. Additionally, there is evidence marijuana can worsen psychiatric issues for people who are predisposed to them, or bring them on at a younger age. Finally, because the drug is typically smoked, it can bring on bronchitis, coughing and chronic inflammation of the air passages.
Researchers think it’s possible that CBD might be a useful treatment for anxiety disorders, and that’s something that several institutions are currently trying to study.
The recent report suggested that evidence of a link between marijuana and an increased risk of most anxiety disorders was limited.
Scientists can’t say for sure whether marijuana causes depression or depressed people are simply more likely to smoke. But one study from the Netherlands suggests that smoking weed could raise the risk of depression for young people who already have a special serotonin gene that could make them more vulnerable to depression.
Those findings are bolstered by the report, which found moderate evidence that cannabis use was linked to a small increased risk of depression.
The report also found substantial evidence of an increased risk among frequent marijuana users of developing schizophrenia — something that studies have shown is a particular concern for people at risk for schizophrenia in the first place.
Limitations on what sort of marijuana research is allowed make it particularly difficult to study this sort of effect.
Since weed makes blood vessels expand, it can give you red eyes.
A case of the munchies is no figment of the imagination — both casual and heavy marijuana users tend to overeat when they smoke.
Marijuana may effectively flip a circuit in the brain that is normally responsible for quelling the appetite, triggering us to eat instead, according to a recent study of mice.
Some athletes, especially in certain endurance and adventure sports, Florida Marijuana Doctor – Sarasota Marijuana Doctors – Sarasota Florida Marijuana Doctors – Sarasota Florida Marijuana Doctors use can boost their athletic performance. This may be because of anti-inflammatory or pain-relieving effects that make it easier to push through a long workout or recover from one.
Marijuana can mess with your memory by changing the way your brain processes information, but scientists still aren’t sure exactly how this happens. Still, several studies suggest that weed interferes with short-term memory, and researchers tend to see more of these effects in inexperienced or infrequent users than in heavy, frequent users.
But while early studies showed some evidence linking marijuana to lung cancer, subsequent studies have debunked that association. It’s unclear why marijuana smoke does not have the same result as tobacco smoke on the lungs, but perhaps some beneficial compounds in the marijuana smoke cancel out the ill effects, or perhaps the other health habits of marijuana smokers are different from those of cigarette smokers.
But cigarette smoking plays a complicated role in studying the impact of marijuana smoke. Marijuana smokers tend to smoke much less than cigarette smokers, as some may smoke one joint a few times a week.
“It’s a very tough epidemiological nut to break.
Additionally, researchers looking to study long-term marijuana use have had difficulty in finding people who regularly smoke marijuana but don’t also smoke tobacco cigarettes. And the illegality of marijuana has also limited research in this field.
For marijuana, much of the concern is with young people who use the drug, because the drug interferes with the development of the brain while it is still maturing.