Marijuana Use, Diet, Body Mass Index, and Cardiovascular Risk Factors (from the CARDIA Study)

Nicolas Rodondi*, Mark James Pletcher, Kiang Liu, Stephen Benjamin Hulley, Stephen Sidney

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

157 Scopus citations


Marijuana use has been associated with increased appetite, high caloric diet, acute increase in blood pressure, and decreases in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides. Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States, but its long-term effects on body mass index (BMI) and cardiovascular risk factors are unknown. Using 15 years of longitudinal data from 3,617 black and white young adults participating in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study, we assessed whether marijuana use was associated with caloric intake, BMI, and cardiovascular risk factors. Of the 3,617 participants, 1,365 (38%) reported ever using marijuana. Marijuana use was associated with male gender, tobacco smoking, and other illicit drug use. More extensive marijuana use was associated with a higher caloric intake (2,746 kcal/day in never users to 3,365 kcal/day in those who used marijuana for ≥1,800 days over 15 years) and alcohol intake (3.6 to 10.8 drinks/week), systolic blood pressure (112.7 to 116.5 mm Hg), and triglyceride levels (84 to 100 mg/dl or 0.95 to 1.13 mmol/L, all p values for trend <0.001), but not with higher BMI and lipid and glucose levels. In multivariate analysis, the associations between marijuana use and systolic blood pressure and triglycerides disappeared, having been mainly confounded by greater alcohol use in marijuana users. In conclusion, although marijuana use was not independently associated with cardiovascular risk factors, it was associated with other unhealthy behaviors, such as high caloric diet, tobacco smoking, and other illicit drug use, which all have long-term detrimental effects on health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)478-484
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Cardiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 15 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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