Does marijuana affect kidney function?
A new study found little evidence that marijuana use affects kidney function in healthy young adults. The analysis appears in an upcoming issue of the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (CJASN).
Because marijuana is becoming increasingly accepted in the United States, there is a critical need for studies examining its risks and benefits. Regarding kidney health, animal studies suggest that marijuana might affect kidney function, but data in humans are limited.
In the first study of its kind, Julie Ishida, MD, MAS (University of California, San Francisco and San Francisco VA Medical Center) and her colleagues examined the potential links between marijuana use and kidney function in healthy young adults. Their analysis included data from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study, which contained repeated assessments of marijuana use and kidney outcomes.
The team 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.
“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,” said Dr. Ishida.
In a recent study of healthy young adults, 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. Additional studies are needed to assess the effects of marijuana in older adults and patients with kidney disease.
Marijuana Doesn’t Seem to Harm the Kidneys
By Robert Preidt
TUESDAY, March 6, 2018 (HealthDay News) — As marijuana use has increased in the United States in recent years, medical experts and users alike have wondered about its health effects.
Now, a new study finds there’s no link between marijuana use and kidney disease — at least among younger people who use the drug in moderation.
“Our research provides some reassuring evidence suggesting that there is no detrimental effect of infrequent, relatively light use of marijuana on kidney function among healthy adults under age 60,” said lead investigator Dr. Murray Mittleman. He’s a professor of epidemiology at Harvard University’s School of Public Health and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
“However, our research does not address heavy users, the elderly, or those with pre-existing chronic kidney disease,” Mittleman said in a Harvard news release. “Research is needed to evaluate the impact of marijuana use in adults 60 and over, and among those with existing or at risk of developing kidney disease.”
Marijuana is widely used in the United States, according to the researchers. Marijuana use rose from 7.5 percent in 2013 to 8.3 percent in 2015, especially among people 18 to 25 years old, the researchers reported.
Little has been known about how it might affect the kidneys.
To investigate that, Mittleman’s team analyzed data from nearly 14,000 U.S. adults, ages 18 to 59, who took part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2007 to 2014.
When questioned, nearly 5,500 of the adults said they had smoked marijuana at least once, but not in the past 30 days, and more than 2,000 said they had smoked marijuana at least once within the last 30 days.
The researchers checked levels of microalbuminuria (an increase in urine albumin, which is a marker for kidney disease), and they found no association between past or current marijuana use and worsened kidney function or disease.
The study was published online recently in The American Journal of Medicine.
Marijuana use rose from 7.5 percent in 2013 to 8.3 percent in 2015, especially among people 18 to 25 years old, the researchers reported.