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Could marijuana be bad for bones? (6/6/05)

     British researchers have recently demonstrated that one of the receptors activated by cannabinoids (substances such as THC, the main active ingredient of marijuana) may tell bone cells to scavenge bone material, making bones lighter/less dense. This sort of loss of bone density can lead to diseases such as osteoporosis (common in elderly women.)

     The researchers demonstrated that mice who were given drugs that prevented these cannabinoid receptors from being activated were protected against losing bone density after their ovaries were removed, offering a potential route for developing new medications to prevent bone loss in humans.

     Although not dealing specifically with marijuana, this research does suggest the interesting possibility that heavy, long-term use of marijuana might increase the risk of osteoporosis. It's too early to tell if this theoretical concern will translate into any real-world risk to users, although moderation is always the best policy regardless.

Download the journal article (.pdf).