HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Pot-Smoking Linked to Gum Disease
Pubdate: Wed, 06 Feb 2008
Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2008 Calgary Herald
Author: Sharon Kirkey, Canwest News Service
Referenced: The study 'Cannabis Smoking and Periodontal Disease Among 
Young Adults'
Bookmark: (Marijuana)


"It's This Idea of Having a Smouldering Infection in Your

"These are your gums. These are your gums on drugs." That may become
the newest TV spot on dope's dangers with a new study linking regular
marijuana use with a significant risk of destructive gum disease and
tooth loss.

Researchers found that young people who smoke cannabis 41 or more
times per year -- or almost once a week -- are up to three times more
likely than non-users to have serious periodontal disease by age 32.

"People lose the support around the bone, the support around their
teeth and they may lose their teeth to periodontal disease," says Dr.
James Beck, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel
Hill School of Dentistry.

"It's this idea of having a smouldering infection in your mouth."
What's more, growing research suggests people with gum disease release
bacterial products into the bloodstream, increasing their risk of
"systemic" diseases such as heart disease and stroke. Gum disease has
even been linked with an increased risk of pancreatic cancer.

It's long been known that one of the main risk factors for periodontal
disease is cigarette smoking. The researchers wanted to know, what
about smoking other things? Cannabis is the second most commonly used
drug among Canadian youth, behind alcohol.

According to a drug use survey by the Centre for Addiction and Mental
Health, 26 per cent of Ontario students used cannabis at least once in
the past year. Ten per cent of pot smokers are daily users, and use
increases with each grade, from four per cent of those in Grade 7, to
45 per cent of those in Grade 12.

The new study, published in this week's issue of the Journal of the
American Medical Association, included 903 people born in New Zealand
between 1972 and 1973. The group reported their cannabis use during
the previous year when they were 18, 21, 26 and 32, and had their
teeth checked twice, when they were 26 and 32.

Researchers assigned participants to one of three exposure groups: no
exposure, some exposure (one to 40 occasions of cannabis use reported
during the previous year) and high exposure (41 or more occasions of
pot use).

When periodontal disease progresses, it destroys the ligament around
the tooth and bone. Gum separates from the teeth, forming pockets that
fill with plaque and infection, according to the American Academy of

The amount of destruction is measured by sticking a probe between the
gum and tooth to see how deep the pockets are. That's called
attachment loss.

After controlling for tobacco smoking, infrequent dental check-ups and
plaque, compared with those who had never smoked cannabis, those in
the highest using group had a 60 per cent increased risk for having
one or more sites with four millimetres or greater pockets or
attachment loss, and a three-times greater risk for having one or more
sites with five millimetres or more attachment loss.

"It may be something in the marijuana, or it could be that the folks
who smoke marijuana do something else that we haven't thought about
that could be the real factor here," Beck says.

The researchers didn't control for diet, but Beck doubts that the
munchies would have an impact. A diet high in chocolate, sweets and
other junk food contributes to tooth decay and not so much to
periodontal disease, he said.

The link with diseased gums might also be due to the physical act of
smoking pot, and the deep "inhalation and prolonged contact and
absorption time," the researchers write. 
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