European Calcified Tissue Society (ECTS) logo - click for high-res version

Cannabis can lead to broken bones, says study

2013-05-22
OC3.1 (2013)


May 22, 2013, Lisbon, Portugal. Press Dispensary. A recent study of heavy cannabis users in Scotland – many of them young men – has shown that regular smoking of cannabis can lead to a lower bone mineral density, which in turn can mean weaker bones and a greater risk of breakages.

The findings were presented at the 50th anniversary congress of the European Calcified Tissue Society (ECTS), being held in Lisbon, Portugal, on May 18-21, 2013.

it's clear from the study that young men who smoke a lot of cannabis joints can have less healthy bones and therefore a higher risk of fractures, as well as other complaints as they get older
Antonia Sophocleous

180 subjects were recruited from the local community in Edinburgh: 109 regular cannabis users were studied and 71 cigarette smokers were also studied as a 'control' group against which the cannabis users could be measured. The cannabis users were divided into two subgroups of 'moderate' and 'heavy' users, based on their lifetime exposure ('joint-years').

There was no difference between users and controls in their (self-reported) alcohol intake but heavy users smoked less tobacco and had more calcium intake than controls, which of itself should be beneficial to bones.

The study showed that the heavy users had substantially lower bone mineral density (BMD) at the lower spine and hip, when compared to the controls, and also had a lower body mass index (BMI) and lower fat mass. Analysis of the results showed that gender and BMI were the most important basis for lower spine and hip BMD, indicating that the negative effects of cannabis use on bone health might be due to cannabis effects on BMI.

Edinburgh University's Antonia Sophocleous, who led the study, said: "We knew that cannabis had an effect on the mass and growth of bones in mice, with an increasing age-related risk of osteoporosis, so we wanted to get an initial idea of the effect on humans. And it's clear from the study that young men who smoke a lot of cannabis joints can have less healthy bones and therefore a higher risk of fractures, as well as other complaints as they get older. The result is related to gender and may be caused by the effect of cannabis on BMI."

- ends -

Notes for editors
The European Calcified Tissue Society (ECTS) is the major organisation in Europe for researchers and clinicians working in the field of calcified tissues and related fields and in 2013 is celebrating its 50th anniversary. ECTS acts as a forum for the dissemination of high quality research through its annual meeting, the European Symposium on Calcified Tissues, and through training courses and workshops.

Calcified tissues are central to a healthy skeleton and to bone disorders - such as osteoporosis, back pain and fractures - that make life a misery for countless people. Children can inherit some forms of bone diseases causing bone pain, shortness and deformed limbs.

The 50th anniversary meeting of the European Calcified Tissue Society takes place in Lisbon, Portugal, on May 18-21, 2013. Some 3,500 delegates are expected to attend.

About the study results

109 Cannabis users were divided into two groups based on their lifetime exposure (joint-years) into moderate (0.01-57) and heavy subgroups (58-540). Cannabis users were younger than controls by about 10 years.

Heavy users had a lower body mass index (BMI) (p=0.002) and lower fat mass on DEXA (p<0.001) compared to controls. They had substantially lower BMD Z-score values at the lumbar spine (p=0.047) and total hip (p=0.003) than controls with evidence of a dose effect such that heavy users had total hip Z-score values approximately 0.5 Z-score units lower than controls. A high proportion of heavy users were young men.

There was no difference between users and controls in self-reported alcohol intake but heavy users smoked less tobacco (p=0.025) and had higher dietary calcium intake (p<0.001) than controls.

Multivariate analysis showed that gender and BMI were the most important determinants of spine and hip BMD Z-score in the study cohort indicating that the negative effects of cannabis use on bone health might be due to an effect on BMI. The study concluded that cannabis users have low bone mass at spine and hip, demonstrating that in people of this age, heavy cannabis use negatively impacts bone health.

For further information please contact
Roberta Mugnai, ECTS executive director
European Calcified Tissue Society (ECTS)
Tel: + 32 476 520 716
Email:
Site: www.ectsoc.org

Media contacts

Roberta Mugnai, ECTS executive director
Tel: + 32 476 520 716
Email:
Site: www.ectsoc.org

Keywords/tags
cannabis use cannabis effects bone weakening bone breakage risk cannabis effect on bones calcified tissue ECTS Lisbon male cannabis smokers Edinburgh University Antonia Sophocleous

Permalink: http://bit.ly/13VIL1G