Highs may hurt the heart.
Add possible increased risk of heart disease to the side effects of
smoking marijuana. A study led by Jean Lud Cadet of the National
Institute on Drug Abuse in Bethesda, Md., and published online in
Molecular Psychiatry tested blood samples from 18 chronic marijuana
users and 24 nonusers. Heavy smokers, who used 78 to 350 joints a week,
had higher levels of the protein apolipoprotein C-Ill, which stops
enzymes from chewing up triglycerides. This failure increases the levels
of triglycerides, implicated in heart disease. Chronic use may boost
levels of the protein when THC, marijuana's active ingredient,
binds to cannabinoid receptors in the liver, says George Kunos of the
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in Bethesda. The body
also makes substances that bind to the receptors. Understanding how THC
works can shed light on this natural pathway, Kunos adds.