Cannabis use and bone mineral density: NHANES 2007–2010
Cannabis use is rising in the USA. Its relationship to cannabinoid signaling in bone cells implies its use could affect bone mineral density (BMD) in the population. In a national survey of people ages 20–59, we found no association between self-reported cannabis use and BMD of the hip or spine.
Cannabis is the most widely used illegal drug in the USA, and its recreational use has recently been approved in several US states. Cannabinoids play a role in bone homeostasis. We aimed to determine the association between cannabis use and BMD in US adults.
In the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2007–2010, 4743 participants between 20 and 59 years old, history of cannabis use was categorized into never, former (previous use, but not in last 30 days), light (1–4 days of use in last 30 days), and heavy (≥5 days of use in last 30 days). Multivariable linear regression was used to test the association between cannabis use and DXA BMD of the proximal femur and lumbar spine with adjustment for age, sex, BMI, and race/ethnicity among other BMD determinants.
Sixty percent of the population reported ever using cannabis; 47% were former users, 5% were light users, and 7% were heavy users. Heavy cannabis users were more likely to be male, have a lower BMI, increased daily alcohol intake, increased tobacco pack-years, and were more likely to have used other illegal drugs (cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamines). No association between cannabis and BMD was observed for any level of use (p ≥ 0.28).
A history of cannabis use, although highly prevalent and related to other risk factors for low BMD, was not independently associated with BMD in this cross-sectional study of American men and women.
KeywordsCannabis Bone mineral density NHANES Drug use Osteoporosis
bone mineral density
body mass index
dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry
National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey
National Center for Health and Statistics
mobile examination center
We thank Lynn Marshall and Erin Takemoto for their help in data analysis and interpretation.
Compliance with ethical standards
Written informed consent was obtained for all subjects and was approved by the NCHS Research Ethics Review Board.
Conflict of interest
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