Smoking marijuana causes early puberty and stunts growth in boys

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Staff Report ISB: The scientists at the Pir Mehr Ali Shah Agriculture University (PMAS), Rawalpindi studied the levels of certain hormones involved in growth and puberty in the blood of 220 non-smoking and 217 marijuana-addicted boys. The research revealed that levels of puberty-related hormones such as testosterone and luteinising hormone (LH) were significantly high in the marijuana smokers. In contrast, growth hormone levels were decreased in this group. It was also found that non-smoking boys were on average 4 kg heavier and 4.6 inches taller by the age of 20 than the marijuana smokers.

The research team, which was led by Dr. Syed Shakeel Raza Rizvi, also looked at the effect of smoking marijuana on levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, in 10 marijuana addicts; they found that marijuana smokers have significantly higher levels of cortisol than non-smokers. Dr. Rizvi hypothesises that, “Marijuana use may provoke a stress response that stimulates onset of puberty but suppresses growth rate.”

He further explained, “Early puberty is associated with younger age of onset of drinking and smoking, and early matures have higher levels of substance abuse because they enter the risk period at an early level of emotional maturity.”

The research was innovative in an aspect that previous studies have looked at the effect of smoking marijuana in adult rats and humans but this is the first time that the effects have been studied in pubertal boys.


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