According to a study, marijuana has some negative effects on the biological process of aging.
The study, which was published in the Drug and Alcohol Dependence journal has found that smoking the drug can accelerate the biological aging process.
Researchers analyzed epigenetic samples from 154 participants and found that those who smoked marijuana regularly experienced genetic aging processes at age 30 that are usually seen at a much later stage in life.
Scientists have created metrics called “epigenetic clocks” that test patterns in the methylation process of DNA to determine the biological age of a person. In this study, researchers applied some of these tools to test if cannabis smoking creates a gap between the chronological age and the genetic age of smokers.
When the study was launched and participants were first recruited to it, they were 13-years-old and were asked to report their annual frequency of cannabis use over a period of 17 years. The researchers used two epigenetic clocks to analyze blood samples taken from each participant at the end of the study period, at around age 30.
Results from the study found a clear correlation between marijuana smoking and accelerated epigenetic aging, and the more frequent and heavy drug use, the greater the aging gap. Meaning, those who smoked more also aged more at the cellular level.
“We saw ties between the dose of consumption so that even within the group of smokers we saw that those who smoked more, aged epigenetically faster,” the researchers wrote.
“Although it can’t be determined with certainty, our findings correlate with a causal relationship between marijuana use and epigenetic aging,” the researchers concluded in their paper.