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Age When Marijuana Used Affects Bone Health


Researchers at the University of Edinburgh have found that the effects of cannabis on bone health may vary greatly depending on the age of the Marijuana user. It seems that young users may lose bone strength, while older user may gain protection against osteoporosis.

The researchers noted that a molecule found naturally in the body, the type 1 cannabinoid receptor (CB1), can be activated by cannabis and is key to the development of osteoporosis. It was known that when CB1 comes into contact with cannabis it had an impact on bone regeneration, but this study published in the Cell Metabolism looked at whether the drug has a positive or negative effect.

The study used mice that lacked the CB1 receptor. Using compounds similar to those in cannabis which activated the CB1 receptor, they found that compounds increased the rate at which bone tissue was destroyed in the young.

However, the same compounds decreased bone loss in older mice and prevented the accumulation of fat in the bones, which is known to occur in humans with osteoporosis.

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Stuart Ralston, Professor of Rheumatology at the University of Edinburgh, said: "This is an exciting step forward, but we must recognize that these are early results and more tests are needed on the effects of cannabis in humans to determine how the effects differ with age in people”

Osteoporosis is a disease in which bones become fragile and more likely to break. If not prevented or if left untreated, osteoporosis can progress painlessly until a bone breaks. These broken bones, also known as fractures, occur typically in the hip, spine, and wrist.

Osteoporosis is estimated to affect 44 million Americans, or 55 percent of the people 50 years of age and older. Osteoporosis affects up to 30 per cent of women and 12 per cent of men at some point in life.

Prevention of osteoporosis begins in childhood. About 85-90% of adult bone mass is acquired by age 18 in girls and 20 in boys. It is important for children, teens, and adults to get the recommended amounts of calcium and vitamin D. Weight-bearing and muscle –strengthening exercises are important.

University of Edinburgh
Cannabinoid Receptor Type 1 Protects against Age- Related Osteoporosis by Regulating Osteoblast and Adipocyte Differentiation in Marrow Stromal Cells; Cell Metabolism, Volume 10, Issue 2, 139-147, 6 August 2009 (doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2009.07.006); Aymen I. Idris,Antonia Sophocleous,Euphemie Landao-Bassonga,Meritxell Canals,Graeme Milligan,David Baker,Robert J. van't HofandStuart H. Ralston