July 2022


Canadian Study Contradicts ‘Cannabis Is Harmless’ Mantra

Neither the science nor the public opinion surrounding cannabis is close to being settled. Activists on both sides of the issue would have us believe otherwise, but just read the news. As a case in point, a brand-new study out of Canada shows a link between regular cannabis use and the need for emergency medical care and hospitalization.

Critics will cry foul and say that the epidemiological study only draws a correlation; that it doesn’t clearly establish cause and effect. They will be right in doing so. But likewise, researchers promoting cannabis for every malady under the sun are also guilty out producing epidemiological studies the do not actually prove anything. It is the way the debate works.

What the Research Found

Regardless of where you stand on the issue, it is worth delving into the details of this particular study. Researchers from the University of Toronto and ICES conducted a systematic analysis of the medical records of more than 30,000 Ontario patients over a 6-year period. The patients ranged in age from 12 to 65.

Their analysis demonstrated that regular cannabis users were 22% more likely to visit a hospital emergency department or be hospitalized. Not sure their data was accurate, the researchers adjusted for some thirty factors including alcohol consumption, tobacco consumption, and illicit drug use. Even with adjusting, the numbers turned out the same.

The two leading causes of hospitalization and emergency room visits among that cannabis consumers were:

  • physical injuries
  • respiratory problems.

Those findings intrigued the researchers enough to motivate them to look at previous studies. They found that regular cannabis smokers were more likely to suffer from all sorts of respiratory issues. Likewise, young people who routinely used cannabis were more likely to engage in behaviors resulting in physical injuries.

Not So Harmless

The Canadian research is certainly food for thought. It suggests that cannabis is not so harmless. If that is truly the case, how do so many cannabis proponents get away with claiming that it’s as harmless as can be? It boils down to a lack of credible scientific data.

Imagine a group of cannabis users who have been smoking marijuana for as long as they can remember. They sincerely believe that their behavior has not impacted their health in any meaningful way. Yet they might be forgetting individual trips to the emergency room for injuries sustained while doing stupid things under the influence. And even if they haven’t forgotten such incidents, perhaps they aren’t connecting the dots.

Anecdotal evidence does serve a valuable purpose in medical science. But it is not an adequate substitute for clinical data. As things currently stand, there is a surprising lack of clinical data regarding the harm regular cannabis use may cause. So when people say it is harmless, it’s because they don’t have clinical data to prove otherwise.

Treat It Like a Medicine

There are those who will latch on to the Canadian research and use it as evidence to say that we should pull out all the stops to make sure cannabis is only used as a medicine in this country. That would probably please more conservative states like Utah where, according to the people behind the website, lawmakers have insisted that their program remain medical only.

Time will tell how seriously the Canadian research is taken. Rest assured that competing studies will also be released down the road. Cannabis is an issue that is far from being settled. Like it or not, neither scientists nor the general public agree. They may be even farther apart than survey data would otherwise suggest.

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Elite Athletes Have Poor Oral Health Despite Brushing Daily

Despite brushing their teeth at least twice daily, professional athletes have poorer oral health than the general population. A study of elite athletes in the UK found that almost three-quarters had cavities in their teeth, and more than half had tooth erosion. Apart from the apparent need for regular brushing and flossing, dentists must educate professional athletes about lesser-known risk factors for dental decay and erosion.

1.   Use of Energy Drinks

Experienced dentists from Chermside to Wavell Heights will tell you that most elite athletes have poor oral health, despite brushing their teeth daily. The study’s authors say that energy drinks may be to blame. Energy drinks are high in sugar and caffeine, leading to cavities and other dental problems. Most athletes consume drinks with as much as ten teaspoons of sugar in one can before or during games. Sugar is an accelerating factor for tooth decay. When bacteria mix with all this sugar, it produces acid, which destroys tooth enamel leading to tooth decay.

Therefore, avoiding consuming sugary foods and beverages before playing sports is best. Hence, despite brushing their teeth twice daily, most athletes have poor oral health because they drink sugary energy drinks during their routine workouts. To prevent tooth decay, experts recommend avoiding drinks with such high levels of sugar. Athletes can consider switching to healthier alternatives like smoothies, protein shakes, and water.

2.   High Consumption of Energy Gels

Energy gels are sticky and full of sugar, leading to tooth decay. The sugary, sticky gel creates an environment conducive to bacteria growth. The sugar sticks to teeth while providing a food source for the bacteria. Brushing immediately after consuming an energy gel may help prevent plaque buildup, but brushing will not remove the sticky residue left behind.

Reducing energy gels’ consumption or switching to non-sugar-based gels may help athletes maintain good oral health. If this does not work, other products on the market have a design specific for elite athletes with dental issues, such as chamois cloths or wipes containing xylitol or anti-microbial ingredients.

However, for a sustainable plan, they should research online and develop a strategy that best suits their needs (e.g., specific product, time frame, frequency). As dental problems due to increased energy gel consumption is a recent development, it is essential to continue monitoring the situation to develop guidelines and remedies if necessary.

3.   Regular Consumption of Energy Bars

Many elite athletes consume energy bars regularly as part of their training regimen. However, these bars are often high in sugar and other carbohydrates, leading to cavities and other oral health problems despite a healthy dental care routine. While daily brushing can help reduce the risk of these problems, it is not always enough to prevent tooth decay or gum disease when you increase your intake of sugary snacks or drinks.

A better alternative would be to limit the consumption of sugary foods or beverages while still maintaining a regular brushing schedule. It’s also crucial to visit an experienced dentist for professional teeth cleaning at least twice per year. During teeth cleaning appointments, plaque and tartar buildup that you cannot remove by brushing alone will require special tools like ultrasonic scaling devices or lasers.

4.   Due to Dry Mouth During Intensive Training

While it’s essential to brush your teeth at least twice a day, elite athletes often have poor oral health due to dry mouth during intensive training. That is because they are constantly sweating and losing fluids, which can lead to a decrease in saliva production. Saliva is crucial in protecting our teeth from bacteria by neutralizing acids that cause tooth decay. Dentine is prone to acids and becomes exposed as the saliva levels drop; this makes it easier for cavities to form.

To combat this issue, athletes should drink plenty of water throughout the day and eat salty foods such as nuts or salted pretzels to stimulate saliva production. If an athlete has been experiencing these symptoms for over three months, they should contact their dentist about possible treatments. Also, decreasing saliva production can increase the harmful bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease. The lack of protection afforded by low saliva levels may be one reason many elite athletes have unhealthy mouths despite their best efforts with brushing and flossing daily.

Way Forward

It’s imperative to note that athletes may stand a higher chance of having poor oral health than the average person due to their high-intensity training and dietary habits. It’s therefore crucial for athletes to take proactive measures such as;

  • Visiting a dentist every six months
  • Receiving fluoride treatments
  • Behavior change by reducing intake of sports drinks
  • Working with professionals to develop an intervention program
  • Undergoing scaling and root planning to maintain good oral hygiene

As age passes, gums recede, exposing more surface area where bacteria can grow in the mouth and cause decay – that’s why dentists recommend people to make regular trips to their offices.

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