By / October 9, 2023

Cannabis Use Linked to Lower Risk of Kidney Stones in Men

Kidney stones have been an issue plaguing humans for thousands of years. Also referred to as nephroliths or uroliths, these are hard deposits made of minerals and salts that form inside the kidneys and can pass through the urinary system. Passing a kidney stone can be extremely painful, though they generally don’t cause permanent damage if detected in time.

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A Painful Nuisance

For some, passing kidney stones may require taking pain relievers and consuming a large amount of water, though stones can also become stuck in the urinary system, necessitating surgery.

The risk of developing kidney stones is higher in men than in women. However, numerous other risk factors associated with their formation exist, including genetics, dehydration, exercise habits, diet, and digestive system diseases, among others.

A Potential Connection Between Cannabis Use and Kidney Stones

To investigate the potential link between cannabis use and kidney stones, a team of Chinese researchers analyzed a representative sample of over 14,000 participants from the USA aged 20 to 59 years. The data was sourced from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted from 2009 to 2018, with information about kidney stones and cannabis use being collected from self-reported questionnaires.

This research was published in the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology. The scientists employed multivariable logistic regression and conducted numerous sensitivity analyses to study the relationship between cannabis use and kidney stones. They also noted that, in their view, this was the first cross-sectional study exploring the relationship between cannabis use and kidney stone risk based on this population-based dataset.

“Our findings suggest that cannabis use was inversely associated with kidney stones in men,” the authors assert. “Additionally, we found that regular cannabis use (<6 times/week) indicated a negative association with kidney stones in the male population. However, no such differences were observed in the general population and among women.”

How Cannabis Use Might Prevent Kidney Stones in Men

The researchers present a theory as to why cannabis use might be linked to a reduced risk of kidney stone formation. According to the study, previous research has shown that “cannabinoid usage increased urine output, without affecting excretion.”

This suggests that the diuretic effects of cannabinoids, those actions that aid in reducing accumulation, could lessen the retention time of crystals in the kidney, thereby decreasing the risk of kidney stone formation, the researchers point out.

“Furthermore, cannabidiol, a primary component of cannabis, has beneficial anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects,” the researchers continue. They also highlight that the deposition of crystals in the kidneys is associated with reactive oxygen species generation and inflammasome activation. “Thus, it’s postulated that cannabidiol offers innate benefits in alleviating inflammatory responses and reducing oxidative stress,” they add.

What About Women Using Cannabis?

According to the study, “no association was found between cannabis use and kidney stones in women.” They also note that an earlier study demonstrated that the lower saturation of urine with stone-forming crystals “might be the reason for the fewer kidney stones in women,” suggesting estrogen might be linked to a reduced risk of kidney stones. Postmenopausal women also had a higher risk of kidney stones.

“It’s hypothesized that estrogen might overshadow the impact of cannabis use on kidney stones. Therefore, cannabis use might have an insufficient association with kidney stone risk in the female population,” the researchers state.

Though these findings necessitate further research to delve into dosage and the relationship between cannabis use and kidney stones, the researchers conclude that “men who regularly used cannabis were associated with a lower risk of kidney stones. Using cannabis from one to six times a week was inversely related to the risk of kidney stones in men.”

(Featured image by Steven Tijpel via Unsplash)

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First published in Fakty Konopne, a third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.

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