Study Finds No Negative Effects of Marijuana on Kidney Function

A recent study examined whether cannabis has any effect on kidney function, and if so, what exactly. However, it found little evidence that consumption has any impact on the kidneys of healthy young adults at all. The Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology published the scientific analysis, but further study is necessary to assess the effects of pot in older adults and those with kidney disease.


Because people are increasingly becoming accepting of marijuana use in the United States, there is a dire need for scientific study analyzing its risks and health benefits. In regards to kidney function, there are sufficient animal studies suggesting that it might influence kidney function, but human data is, unfortunately, significantly limited because of federal prohibition of cannabis and research into it.


In a ‘first of its kind’ study, medical director and MAS at the University of California – San Francisco and the San Francisco VA Medical Center, Dr. Julie Ishida, and her colleagues analyzed any possible link between the use of cannabis and kidney health in young adults. Their examination included information from a study conducted by Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults, or CARDIA.


The CARDIA study included repeated analysis of weed’s influence on kidney outcomes. The team found that, when the study began, those using pot at higher rates had the lowest kidney function. However, during follow-up assessments, they found no association between cannabis use and changes in kidney function over time, or with levels of albumen in the urine, which is a notable symptom of kidney damage.


“Results from 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,” Dr. Ishida concluded.“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. Additional research is needed.”


The study’s authors reported no financial disclosures, and its co-authors include Julie Ishida, MD, MAS, Eric Vittinghoff, PhD, Reto Auer, MD, MAS, Mark Pletcher, MD, MPH, Stephen Sidney, MD, MH, Jared Reis, PhD, Kirsten Johansen, MD, Carmen Peralta, MD, MAS, Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, MD, PhD, and Michael Shlipak, MD, MPH.


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