Study Examines Whether Marijuana Affects Kidney Function

It seems that almost every day more research emerges testifying to the myriad of benefits that cannabis can confer on the human organism. So far, research has indicated that cannabis can help with insomnia, chronic pain, glaucoma, depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bi-polar, Parkinson’s, chemotherapy relief, skin cancer and PTSD, to name but a few.  There have been some adverse studies completed, the main one being that frequent use of marijuana by young adults who have preexisting mental conditions are more likely to get lower test scores and score lower on IQ tests. However, this study has been heavily criticised as these students were already from a class predisposed to lower test scores with such conditions. This point notwithstanding, frequent use, especially by young adults, might not be the best play and is something that should be avoided, however beneficial marijuana may be in general.

Marijuana and Kidney Function

It has traditionally been thought that marijuana has a detrimental effect on the kidneys. However, a recent study has examined the relationship between marijuana and kidney function and found that this might not be the case. The study, soon to be printed in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (CJASN), found that at the start of the study, individuals with higher marijuana use had lower kidney function. Upon follow-up, however, marijuana use was not associated with change in kidney function over time or the appearance of albumin in the urine, which is a sign of kidney damage.This contradicts earlier data. It is the first study of its kind which observes the links between marijuana consumption and kidney damage. The Study, titledMarijuana Use and Estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate in Young Adults”, was sponsored by the American Society of Nephrology, a group dedicated to curing and understanding kidney disease and disorders. According to lead study author Julie Ishida:

“Results from our observational study in young adults with normal kidney function may not translate into a clinically meaningful difference and may be insufficient to inform decision-making concerning marijuana use; however, it is possible that the association between marijuana use and kidney function could be different in other populations such as older adults or patients with kidney disease, so additional research is needed”

A Myth Put to Rest

It would seem from the study that yet another misguided marijuana myth has been put to rest. The findings suggest that there is no definitive link between marijuana use and kidney damage, though the findings are not conclusive. The study did indicate that more research was needed as these types of studies often do. And it is also not certain whether or notthese findings can be extrapolated out to older adults. As the study focused on young adults, who typically have higher metabolisms and are far more robust in terms of liver failure, it is not representative of the wider population. The analysis of the study also included data from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study, which contained repeated assessments of marijuana use and kidney outcomes.

No Real Scientific Risk

So far, the only real scientific risk that has been established has been that of repeat use in teenagers which results in lower IQ. In other words, there is practically no single piece of scientific literature that indicates that marijuana is in any way harmful to public health. The real question is how it got banned in 1937 in the first place, as the American Medical Association stated that there was nothing to back up its prohibition. On the flip side, as stated in the article, there is much to suggest that marijuana is an amazing plant with multiple therapeutic benefits. This could change and there could be, and most likely is, risks with marijuana consumption. But all available data suggests that it is, right now, harmless.

Like most research questions, it seems that more research is needed to investigate the matter fully. However, as far as smoking marijuana goes, there is little point in refusing to smoke because of a fear of kidney failure. There are more important ways to expend energy and more serious things to worry about; Such as toxins in the marijuana itself and the environmental fallout of the plant. Unless you happen to have weakened kidneys your fears may be a little ill informed. And while there may be no definitive scientific evidence at present pointing to the dangers of marijuana, it is better to use your own common sense and buy only the highest quality marijuana, to be smoked in moderation.