Does Smoking Cannabis Make You Age Faster?

A recent study has shown that smoking cannabis can accelerate epigenetic ageing.   

Emphasis on the SMOKING.  

The study states that the negative effects of cannabis smoke on epigenetic age appeared to be “linked to effects of hydrocarbon inhalation”, implying that the act of smoking is the cause – not any particular ingredient in cannabis.

The study

The study was carried out on 154 participants from a small city in the southeastern United States over a period of 17 years. The participants’ cannabis use was followed closely, with yearly checkups from the age of 13 until the age of 30.   

At the end of the study, they provided the researchers with blood samples so they could test the effects their long term cannabis use had on their epigenetic age. 

The scientists carrying out the research found that just like smoking tobacco, smoking cannabis affects the amount of DNA methylation. Therefore pointing to an increased amount of ageing. 

Environmental factors, gender, race and other lifestyle choices were also factored into the results.  

Epigenetic age

You may be wondering what epigenetic age even means. Let me attempt to explain. 

Epigenetics is the study of how your behaviours and environment can cause changes that affect the way your genes age. 

We all know that your birth date determines your age, but biological age or epigenetic age is the true age of our cells, tissues, and organ systems, based on biochemistry.  

Scientists use a tool called an epigenetic clock along with observations of other external factors to figure this out. This clock is a biochemical test used to measure age and looks at DNA methylation levels.  

Good news

The study authors attribute the ageing effects of cannabis smoke to be hydrocarbons that are produced during combustion.  Therefore, the good news is you can reverse these effects by simply stopping smoking. 

Now I am aware that stopping is not as simple as it seems, but luckily there are so many other ways we can enjoy cannabis and reap all the medical benefits it can provide.  

Edibles, tinctures, topicals. It is a very versatile plant after all.  

Dry herb vaping cannabis has also become a popular method of consumption in recent years. As these devices avoid combustion, I would be curious to see if they have any effect on epigenetic age.  

The scientists did say more research would be needed.  

This study was the first of its kind in terms of longevity but a much larger and more diverse sample group would provide more concrete evidence. 

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