No Connection Between Cannabis and Early-Onset Strokes

A new study from Sweden has found no connection between the use of marijuana by young adults and having a stroke before the age of 45.

Both alcohol and cigarettes, however, proved to have a clear connection, especially among those who smoke more than 20 cigarettes a day and engaged in heavy drinking.

The Swedish study, published in the journal Stroke, involved 49,321 Swedish men. All were born between 1949 and 1951 and served in the military.

The men all underwent a thorough and extensive health check. They also provided information about their socio-economic background as well as their history of using tobacco, alcohol and marijuana that started at a young age.

Of those surveyed, 192 had strokes before the age of 45.

“We found no evident association between cannabis use in young adulthood and stroke, including strokes before 45 years of age,” the researchers wrote. “Tobacco smoking, however, showed a clear, dose–response shaped association with stroke.”

The study found that those who smoked 20 or more cigarettes a day were six times more likely to have an early stroke than those who did not smoke at all. Also, those who reported high alcohol consumption were four times more likely to have a stroke than those who reported no alcohol consumption.

Another Study

The Swedish researchers found no link between cannabis and early –onset stroke. This follows on the heels of a 2014 study published in the Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism that found cannabinoids extracted from marijuana helped reduce the impact of a stroke in lab animals. Those administered cannabinoids post-stroke also regained or maintained more cognitive function than those who did not.

Many questions remained. The obvious one is that the subjects were not human. The researchers also said it was unclear what the optimal dose was to aid the animal patients. However, they added, “It was generally seen that higher doses resulted in a greater degree of infarct volume reduction.”

Risk Factors for Strokes

If cannabis is not associated with early stroke, than what is? The answers are about what one would expect. According to the Mayo Clinic, they include:

  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Heavy or binge drinking
  • Poor diet
  • Lack of proper, consistent exercise
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Use of cocaine and methamphetamines

Of the 192 people in the Swedish study who had strokes before the age of 45, most had one or all of the above conditions. Many also had a history of heart disease in the family.

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