A recent study out of the University of Northern Colorado raises questions about cannabis use among athletes, particularly females. Though its conclusions are limited due to its small scale, what researchers discovered warrants further investigation. Meanwhile, athletes who rely on short bursts of power to remain competitive may want to think twice about consuming cannabis.
The study in question was recently published by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. It involved twenty-four females between the ages of 19 and 34 who all participated regularly in aerobic and resistance training. Half of the women were active cannabis users while the other half were not.
It should be noted that a study involving only twenty-four participants is limited in what it can tell us. But there is enough there to raise some questions. Hopefully, other researchers will study those questions further.
Decreased Anaerobic Power
Researchers discovered two important things, beginning with the fact that the regular cannabis users exhibited decreased anaerobic power compared to the non-cannabis group. Anaerobic power is demonstrated in short bursts of intense exercise.
Imagine a group of runners poised in the blocks, waiting for the starting gun to fire. As soon as the gun sounds, off they go. That initial burst of energy that gets the runners upright and moving is what science calls anaerobic power. The athletes rely on a quick and intense burst of energy to get from a stationary position to a full sprint.
Interestingly enough, the reduced anaerobic power was consistent regardless of cannabis delivery method. Also interesting was the fact that the twenty-four athletes were comparable in every other tested aspect of performance. It was only the anaerobic power where they differed.
Higher Risk of Heart Disease
A second study finding suggests that participants in the regular cannabis group have a measurably higher risk of heart disease. After accounting for age, the researchers discovered a higher concentration of inflammatory proteins in the cannabis users. The longer each subject had been using cannabis, the higher the concentration of proteins.
Based on what the researchers know about inflammation and those specific proteins, they concluded that the cannabis users were at a higher risk of developing heart disease as compared to the non-using group.
Keep an Open Mind
The study gives us enough information to encourage further questions and more research. It doesn’t allow us to draw any conclusions one way or another. So regardless of where you stand on the cannabis issue, keep an open mind.
At Beehive Farmacy’s medical marijuana dispensary in Brigham City, UT, medical cannabis patients stop in every day to obtain their medicines. Most of the patients are daily users. Does that mean they are all at higher risk for heart disease? We do not know for sure. One small-scale study does not make for concrete conclusions. The same goes for questions of whether these same patients would be less competitive during athletic competition.
It could be that a large-scale, clinical study would completely refute what the University of Northern Colorado researchers concluded from their research. It could be that their obviously small sample skewed the results against cannabis.
On the other hand, future research could prove that the negative side effects of long-term cannabis use are more serious than we thought. The point is that we do not know as much about long-term cannabis complications as so many people think.
The good news is that research seems to be picking up. Every few days a new study is published in a respected journal. That is good. The more research we have, the clearer the picture becomes.