Marijuana May Stunt Growth in Boys
In just the past year, 11.7 percent of 8th graders reported using marijuana, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. But what are its effects, exactly, on teenage boys? Previous studies have been done on the way the drug shapes the adolescent brain, finding that it increases their risk for brain abnormalities and poor long-term memory. The latest research has found the drug stunts the growth of boys and triggers earlier puberty.
Researchers collected blood samples from 217 boys who were regular marijuana users and 220 boys who did not use the drug to assess the level of puberty and growth-related hormones. They found that marijuana users had higher levels of puberty hormones, but also had lower levels of growth hormones. They found that the boys who did not use marijuana were, on average, 4.6 kg heavier and 4 inches taller by the age of 20 than those who used the drug.
In adults, the stress hormone was found to be much higher in marijuana users, as well – leading researchers to hypothesize that stress responses may suppress growth and trigger early puberty.
In either case, these findings provide new ways to educate teens on drug use and the implications it has on their health in the future.