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French Study Gets It Wrong on Heart Disease and Cannabis Use

An x-ray shows a healthy heart within a rib cage, even though the owner has smoked marijuana.


French Study Gets It Wrong on Heart Disease and Cannabis Use

A recent study in France was the genesis of the latest in overreaching conclusions about the effects of marijuana smoking. Supported by the French InterMinisterial Mission for the Fight Against Drugs and Addiction and the French drug agency ANSM, the study claimed that marijuana use may increase the risk of heart and circulatory conditions in young adults, with potentially fatal consequences.

The researchers looked at the 1979 reports made to the French Addictovigilance Network from 2006 to 2010. Health care professionals who encounter serious cases of abuse and dependence related to psychoactive drug use are required to anonymously report.

The researchers found 35 reports of cardiovascular problems during this period, an increase from 1.1 percent to 3.6 percent of all cases reported. Nine of the individuals died. The average age of the patients was 34 and 85 percent were male.

Looking a little deeper, this small number becomes even smaller when other factors are taken into account. For example, nine of the individuals had pre-existing cardiovascular disease. That leaves 24. Of those 24, another 15 were tobacco smokers—a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Another was using cocaine and one more was using ecstasy. That leaves seven individuals — hardly an adequate number to conclude that a link exists between cannabis use and cardiovascular events.

Other factors not adequately considered by using these data were obesity and family history of cardiovascular disease.

Because other studies have shown that there may be a link between cardiovascular events and cannabis, individuals who have pre-existing heart or circulatory problems, patients who have these conditions would be wise to talk to their doctors about their use of cannabis.

What do you think of the French study? Tell us in the comments below!

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