Boys Who Smoke Pot Are Shorter Than Non-Smoking Peers, Study Says

By Victoria Kim 06/09/15

On average, teens who smoked pot were four inches shorter than non-smokers.

Teen smoking joint
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Smoking marijuana before puberty may stunt growth in boys, researchers at the Pir Mehr Ali Shah Agriculture University Rawalpindi in Pakistan said after analyzing the effects of marijuana use on levels of growth and puberty hormones among pubescent boys.

The study, which was presented at the European Congress of Endocrinology in Dublin, Ireland, last month, looked at blood samples from 217 “marijuana-addicted” boys and 220 non-users. They found that the marijuana users exhibited reduced levels of growth hormones compared with non-users, which suggests they grow more slowly than those who have never smoked the drug. The marijuana-addicted group was overall shorter and weighed less than non-users. On average, they were four inches shorter and 4.6 kg (10 pounds) lighter than non-users by age 20.

The findings also suggest that marijuana may cause early puberty, as users exhibited higher levels of puberty-related hormones, like testosterone and luteinizing hormone (LH). They also had much higher concentrations of the stress hormone, cortisol, than non-users.

Based on these findings, study leader Dr. Syed Shakeel Rava Rizvi hypothesized that marijuana’s effect on stress could be linked to slower growth and early puberty. “Marijuana use may provoke a stress response that stimulates onset of puberty but suppresses growth rate,” he said in a press release.

The researchers say the study’s findings are not just about health, and will lead to a better understanding of the dangers of drug abuse on the growth and development of children.

“Early puberty is associated with younger age of onset of drinking and smoking, and early matures have higher levels of substance abuse because they enter the risk period at an early level of emotional maturity,” said Dr. Rivzi.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr