With marijuana legalization taking hold across the country, alcohol now has a recreational rival. How do these two stack up head to head, and which is the bigger buzz kill? Science may have an answer.
Alcohol is more likely to kill you
A study published in the Lancet just last month says that there’s no amount of alcohol that’s good for you, and that imbibing accounted for 10% of all deaths globally for those between the ages of 15 and 40.
They even showed that, among all ages, 2.8 million deaths in 2016 could be attributed in part of alcohol consumption.
Meanwhile, a study from the American Journal of Public Health found that cannabis did not cause an earlier death in over 65,000 Americans they studied over a 16-year period.
The results may suggest reaching for a blunt instead of a beer if you like living!
The herb doesn’t help the heart
Even with the rosy picture above, it’s not all sunshine and kittens when it comes to pot. The drug speeds up your heart rate – by between 20 and 50 beats per second – which could affect your overall heart health.
Don’t fear too much, though. The studies are still inconclusive. There’s just not enough evidence one way or the other about the overall health effects of cannabis on your heart. Likewise, there’s not enough info to conclude whether or not it could increase your chance of a heart attack.
Alcohol, however, might actually be better for your ticker. A drink a day, especially of wine, can lower your chance of a heart attack or stroke. That doesn’t stop all the other negative health effects of alcohol, however.
Is there cancer in your glass?
That one drink might be better for your heart, but it might also increase your chance of developing some forms of cancer. As little as one glass of wine or beer could increase your chances of breast cancer whether you are pre- or post-menopausal.
On the plus side, the same study recommended vigorous exercise to decrease cancer, so maybe consider working out before that glass to help offset the odds.
Meanwhile, cannabis use – unlike tobacco – does not increase your chance of lung cancer. It can, however, increase your chance for bronchitis and other breathing problems.
Alcohol is more addictive
While about half of the U.S. population has tried cannabis, only a small number of users (9%), according to one 1994 study of over 8,000 marijuana smokers, actually showed signs of addiction.
It’s in the mind
Both substances can have an effect on a person’s mental health. Cannabis use showed an increased risk of schizophrenia and psychosis. Those who may already be at risk for schizophrenia should be especially concerned about cannabis use, according to the study.
Alcohol may not have a link to psychosis, but it does heighten depression and anxiety, which can lead to an increase in self-harm, even suicide.
In the end, cannabis may edge out alcohol, but there’s plenty of possible health effects either way. Consider what’s best for you and your health when making any decision.