Osteoporosis

Medical marijuana studies.

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Osteoporosis

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Mar 22, 2008 4:25 pm

Edinburg Evening News wrote:
Researchers seeking heavy cannabis users to join new bone health study

Edinburg Evening News
By IAN SWANSON
March 17, 2008

MEDICAL experts in Edinburgh are planning to recruit 200 heavy cannabis users to help them with new a research project into osteoporosis.

They are set to advertise in GP surgeries across the Capital for willing volunteers – and promise they won't report them for using the illegal drug.

University of Edinburgh researchers are conducting a study into osteoporosis – a thinning of the bones – and believe it may lead to a new cannabis-based drug to treat the condition.

In laboratory experiments they have already seen cannabis-like substances having both positive and negative effects on the bone.

Now they want to enlist heavy cannabis users to see what effect it is having on their bones.

Professor Stuart Ralston, who is leading the research team, said: "Cannabis is the most widely-used illegal drug in the UK, particularly in the young, but virtually nothing is known about its possible effects on bone health.

"The aim of our study is to determine if cannabis use negatively impacts on bone density, which is an important risk factor for osteoporosis in later life.

"We would look to see if ten joints a week is worse than one."

Volunteers will undergo a bone scan and blood tests to discover the condition of their bones compared with non-cannabis users.

Prof Ralston said: "The situation is complex because we know cannabis is often smoked in combination with tobacco and so the study will take this into account.

"We will also take account of cannabis users' diet, exercise and alcohol intake, since these are also known to influence bone health."

The study is part of a £894,000 research programme funded by the Arthritis Research Campaign.

Half of all women and one in five men are likely to suffer from osteoporosis, which leads to 200,000 fractures a year, 86,000 of which are broken hips. Existing drugs are inconvenient to take and also have side-effects.

Prof Ralston said: "What we have found before is some compounds which act like cannabis can stimulate cells which remove bone, causing thinning of the bone, but they can also stimulate cells that cause the build-up of new bone.

"This is an exciting discovery because it opens up the possibility that we can develop new drug treatments for osteoporosis.

"The treatments for osteoporosis that are out there now either work by preventing bone loss or by stimulating bone formation.

"If we could develop a new treatment that worked in both ways at the same time, this would be a major advance."

He does not expect there to be a problem in recruiting volunteers, despite the illegal status of cannabis, and said: "It is done completely confidentially."



The full article contains 457 words and appears in Edinburgh Evening News newspaper.Last Updated: 17 March 2008 1:54 PM

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