A long-term study of heavy recreational marijuana smokers that assessed a dozen measures of physical health, including lung function, systemic inflammation and several measures of metabolic syndrome, including waist circumference, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, glucose control and body mass index, found that a higher rate of periodontal disease was the only major negative physical effect found over non-smokers.

The study, published by JAMA Psychiatry, involved over 1,000 New Zealanders and revealed that tobacco smokers were found to have gum disease as well as reduced lung function, systemic inflammation and indicators of poorer metabolic health.

“We can see the physical health effects of tobacco smoking in this study, but we don’t see similar effects for cannabis smoking,” said Madeline Meier, an assistant professor of psychology at Arizona State University who conducted the study with colleagues at Duke University, King’s College in the UK and the University of Otago in New Zealand, as quoted in Duke’s press release.

Despite the repeated reference to gum disease, it appears that no attempt was made to study the actual periodontal hygiene methodology of participants, in terms of what kind of dental visits they made. While smoking cannabis is well known to cause a dry mouth, the dental effects of vaporizing cannabis or using edibles have yet to be determined.

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