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Cannabis "osteoporosis link" probed

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh are recruiting 200 cannabis users for a study which will investigate whether the drug damages bones.

They hope the probe may lead to the development of new drugs to treat the bone disease osteoporosis.

The project is the latest stage in an £894,000 research programme which has already identified that cannabinoids - chemicals which are produced naturally in the body - have important effects on bone.

It is already known that components of cannabis trigger activation of these receptors, but scientists are unsure whether this is bad for the skeleton or whether it might protect against osteoporosis.

The research, which is is funded by the Arthritis Research Campaign, is being led by Professor Stuart Ralston at the university's Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine.

Professor Ralston 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.

"The situation is complex because we know that 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."

Arthritis Research Campaign

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"I don't understand why your tittle is "Cannabis 'osteoporosis link' probed" as nothing is probed yet. This is only a project of research at the moment." - Mika, London