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Marijuana Bad for the Gums
Date:2/5/2008

Regular use ups risk of periodontal disease, study finds,,,,

TUESDAY, Feb. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Pot smokers face many of the same health consequences that tobacco users do, such as an increased risk of heart disease, but until now, it wasn't known that marijuana use could also destroy gum tissue.

In the Feb. 6 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers reported that heavy marijuana users have as much as three times the risk of developing serious gum disease compared to those who haven't smoked pot.

"We found in our study that long-term heavy [marijuana] smokers had a greater risk of gum disease by the time they reach their early 30s," said study lead author W. Murray Thomson, a professor of dental epidemiology and public health at the Sir John Walsh Research Institute at the School of Dentistry in Dunedin, New Zealand.

"The gums in a person's oral cavity before the age of 35 seem to be a pretty sensitive marker for adverse lifestyles," said Philippe Hujoel, a professor in the department of Dental Public Health Sciences at the University of Washington School of Dentistry. Hujoel wrote an accompanying editorial in the same issue of the journal.

Marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug in the United States, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Smoked like tobacco, it has many similar ill health effects. Marijuana use has been associated with increases in the risk of heart disease, head and neck cancers, problems in the lungs and infection. Marijuana has also been associated with social behavior problems, according to NIDA.

For the study, Thomson and his colleagues used data from a group of 900 New Zealanders who have been followed from birth into their early 30s. The group members have been assessed 11 different times since they were 3 years old. The researchers began asking about marijuana use at age 18, and then again at 21, 26
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