The Real, Research-Backed Reasons Why (And How) Marijuana Can Hurt You

I don’t usually discuss my personal views on things such as recreational drugs on my blog, but I’ve always been anti-marijuana (and anti-drug in general) so this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows me.

I have never used recreational drugs, never smoked or vaped ever, and I don’t drink (for the record, I have drank in the past but have never been drunk, and I’ve been officially sober since November 2019).

Unfortunately, it seems as though more people believe that marijuana isn’t harmful to human health (or environmental health), which is leading to an increased number of users.

That being said, I do recognize that using drugs and drinking are personal choices. I would argue that they should be informed choices, so let’s talk about how marijuana can influence the body, as well as my thoughts on cannabidiol (CBD) oil use.

Marijuana Use Can Permanently Alter Brain Function

Research published in the Journal of Neuroscience concludes that smoking as little as one to two joints can change gray matter in the brains of teenagers.

Yes, it was a small study—just 46 teens—but their brains showed more gray matter volume. The biggest changes were in the amygdala, which is involved in fear and other emotions, and in the hippocampus, which involves memory and spatial awareness.

But what does this mean?

The researchers aren’t sure, but the lead author of the study says that teenage brains undergo a process where it gets thinner as it refines synaptic connections, and they suspect that marijuana use disrupts this process.

Let’s look at a larger study.

1,037 individuals were followed from birth to 38 years old, establishing research criteria from before marijuana use started to well after a pattern of use had been established.

The research concluded that “persistent cannabis use was associated with neuropsychological decline broadly across domains of functioning, even after controlling for years of education”.

What does this mean, exactly?

It means that cannabis has a neurotoxic (meaning damage to the brain or nervous system) effect on the brain, and even after ceasing cannabis use, neuropsychological functioning (which is related to cognition and behavior) was not fully restored.

Negatively Impacts Fertility and Fetal Development

If you’re planning on having a baby, it’s best to stay away from marijuana for three reasons.

  1. Changes sperm DNA. The psychoactive component in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marijuana alters the DNA of sperm. Again, this was a small study—24 people—but it showed that THC alters a DNA process that’s “essential to normal development”, although researchers aren’t yet clear on how this affects the children this sperm is responsible for.
  2. Problems for baby post-birth. Babies exposed to marijuana in the womb are not only more likely to have a low birth weight, but are more likely to need neonatal intensive care compared to babies whose mothers didn’t use marijuana during pregnancy.
  3. Children may be at an increased risk for behavioral issues. Women who smoked marijuana during pregnancy have been found to have children with behavioral problems, even after controlling for outside variables. Children exposed to marijuana in utero tend to be more impulsive, hyperactive, have lower IQs, and have an increased risk for memory and mental health problems.

Marijuana Use Can Also Affect Your Mental Health

Cannabis use “is likely” to increase the risk of developing disorders such as schizophrenia and social anxiety disorder, and may exacerbate symptoms of bipolar disorder. Heavy cannabis users are also more likely to report having suicidal thoughts.

In one study of 50,000 people, marijuana use during adolescence was associated with a 30 percent increased risk of developing schizophrenia. The higher the marijuana use, the higher the risk for schizophrenia.

Some research also notes an increased risk of depression with regular marijuana use, although other studies have not reached this conclusion. However, a recent study noted that people under the age of 18 who used marijuana were 37 percent more likely to experience depression in early adulthood than those that didn’t.

A small study of 43 people also noted changes in impulse control and hostility, including perceptions of hostility, for people when using marijuana.

Contains Many of the Same Carcinogens as Cigarettes (and Puts 4x More Tar in Your Lungs)

I’ve long argued that smoking marijuana is not better than smoking cigarettes by any means. People like to argue that marijuana is “natural” without having any research to back up their claims. Radon is natural too, but it’s the second-leading cause of lung cancer.

So what does research say when it comes to marijuana versus cigarettes?

More Tar in Your Lungs

Research concluded that smoking marijuana “results in a substantially greater respiratory burden of carbon monoxide and tar” than smoking a similar quantity of tobacco.

Marijuana also leads to four times the deposition of tar than cigarette smoking.

What does this mean? It means four times the amount of tar is being deposited into your lungs when you smoke marijuana than it would be if you were smoking cigarettes. Tar can take years to leave your lungs after you stop smoking, and the longer you smoke, the longer it’ll take for your body to remove the tar.

Higher Concentrations of Some Chemicals

Other research notes that marijuana and tobacco have many of the same chemicals. In fact, ammonia was up to 20 times greater in marijuana smoke than tobacco smoke (ammonia has a corrosive effect on the lungs and can lead to permanent lung damage).

Additional chemicals such as hydrogen cyanide were found at concentrations 3-5 times higher than those in tobacco smoke. Hydrogen cyanide is extremely poisonous at high levels and is used as a pesticide, and can affect the entire body.

Marijuana smoke also contains 50 percent more benzoprene (a potent cancer-causing chemical) and 75 percent more benzanthracene (also suspected to be a carcinogen) than cigarette smoke.

No, Marijuana Does Not Cure Cancer

And, surprise, marijuana (as well as CBD) does not cure cancer—in fact, with all the chemicals involved in smoking this plant, I’d say there’s a much higher chance that it actually causes cancer, although research has not yet proven this link. However, some studies have concluded that long-term cannabis use increases risk of lung cancer.

Not to Mention…

Some people argue that marijuana use helps alleviate chronic pain and reduce anxiety, among other claims.

I’m not arguing that marijuana doesn’t have these effects on people—but I would argue that there are alternatives to solving your problems than permanently damaging your brain, lungs, and body with a substance, and many of them are more “natural” than smoking marijuana.

With marijuana use, I find it hard to feel that people are actually addressing the root cause of their issue, and instead are covering it up or trying to treat it with marijuana, which, as we’ve seen, can cause even more problems in the body.

A Note on CBD

Of course, the use of isolated cannabidiol—a non-psychoactive component of marijuana—has been growing in popularity. While CBD has some promising results, I would argue that people shouldn’t be using it to the extent that they are, as research isn’t caught up enough for us to know its long-term effects.

Again, I’d argue that for many medical problems, there are healthier alternatives that we can take advantage of until further studies are done on CBD’s effect on the human body. Two of these alternatives are diet changes and herbs, which can dramatically influence chronic pain, anxiety, and even cancer.

Wrapping Up

With all this said, I would not advocate for marijuana use for anyone under any circumstances. I hate seeing how much misinformation there is out there about marijuana, and that’s not even to mention its negative effects on the environment, or how it can increase your risk for drug addiction.

Can we stop saying marijuana is harmless?

5 Reasons Victoria’s Secret Is Actually Hurting Women

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve been a long-time fan of Victoria’s Secret. At one point, I knew all the models’ names and even their weight.

Pretty embarrassing.

Then, after realizing bras really aren’t great for our health, I went totally bra-free nearly two years ago and have never looked back. Since then, I’ve sold my Victoria’s Secret bras to try and gain back what I lost giving my meager earnings to this billion-dollar company.

But all this doesn’t quite define the issue I have with Victoria’s Secret. I’ve realized that this company is hurting women more than they’re helping them.

Here’s why more and more women are considering what’s wrong with Victoria’s Secret and why I myself have questioned my purchases there and eventually stopped shopping there altogether.

1. Teaches Women That Perfection Is the Norm

My problem with Victoria’s Secret is that they allow girls to feel like being this thin is not only desirable but is also somehow the norm.

It’s not. The majority of women do not look like this. Yes, some women do have naturally thin body types that can be enhanced through diet, exercise, and PhotoShop.

But making girls feel like this is what’s expected of them is unrealistic. The average American woman weighs 166.2 pounds, while the average Victoria’s Secret model weighs about 120 pounds.

That’s over 45 pounds of weight difference.

I’m not saying the 166-pound average American woman is healthy. I’m not saying Victoria’s Secret 120-pound models are unhealthy. What I am saying is that there’s a huge gap here and that Victoria’s Secret does not represent the majority of women.

 

2. Helps Women Feel Confident Only When Covered

Why was I so obsessed with Victoria’s Secret for all those years?

Victoria’s Secret, to me, represented a world where women could feel sexy and not ashamed of their bodies.

Although I loved buying lingerie, I only did so because I couldn’t stand the sight of my actual body.

I was taught to hide and be embarrassed about my large breasts from an early age. Victoria’s Secret provided me with a way to deal with these feelings and feel better about myself.

However, I was only confident when I was covered. You almost never see Victoria’s Secret models naked. It teaches women that they need sexy lingerie to be desirable or attractive.

Their message is: when you have this product you’re hot. When you don’t have it, you’re not. Victoria’s Secret made me feel great for years until I realized that without the lingerie, I just felt like crap about myself and that wasn’t ok.

3. Bras Just Aren’t Really That Healthy

So why did I turn away from bras when I felt like I essentially needed them to feel good?

I read a fantastic article on Elephant Journal about why bras aren’t healthy for us and it changed my life.

Since reading about research that points to an increased risk for breast cancer due to heat and lymph node drainage, increased back and shoulder pain, and even toxic synthetic fabrics, I couldn’t wear a bra anymore.

So I stopped.

Bras just aren’t healthy for us. Underwire bras put pressure on our lymph nodes, which prevents our lymphatic system from draining properly. For us girls who have large breasts and require more material and padding, the accumulated heat from wearing a bra can increase our risk for breast cancer.

Combine all this with the fact that bras can actually cause sagging, reduce your nipple height, and increase back pain, and bras aren’t looking that sexy anymore.

4. There’s No Such Thing as a Real Woman

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Victoria’s Secret’s notorious PhotoShop fails and digital enhancement of their models creates a world of advertising where there are no real women. Of course, Victoria’s Secret isn’t the only company guilty of this.

While I don’t doubt their models look fantastic in real life, I also don’t doubt that those photos have been altered to make the women look completely unrealistic.

This is exactly what happens with magazines. Everyone knows this—those women may be real people, but their photos have been altered in such a way that they don’t portray real women anymore.

Real beauty is strength. Strength is sexy. Being in shape is sexy. I don’t wish to skinny shame anyone; I only want to point out that real women don’t exist in advertising. That’s slowly changing, though!

5. They Use Synthetic Fabrics and Unethical Labor

Any fabric that’s synthetic or even partially synthetic is typically treated with formaldehyde.

Formaldehyde is a possible human carcinogen.

In fact, some women have even experienced allergic reactions to the bras as a result of this. Most of Victoria’s Secret’s bras are made out of synthetic materials.

Even their cotton bras are blended with some type of synthetic fabric such as spandex.

These fabrics are essentially made from plastics, which are made from oils, which are flammable.

This means they require flame retardants in order for them to be safe for you to wear.

All this and not to mention their unethical labor standards, which show that Victoria’s Secret is getting labor and materials for extremely cheap and then selling the bras for ridiculously high prices.

So not only are their bras not healthy or eco-friendly, they are also supporting child labor in various countries.

Your Alternatives to Victoria’s Secret

Don’t worry, avoiding this company and breaking your habit is easier than you think.

I dare you to not wear a bra for a day. You’ll be amazed at how different you feel. You can also get an organic cotton bralette or scarves to cover yourself when you’re feeling modest.

As for me, I still wear sports bras when I go running, but I’m completely bra-free outside of that. I’ve been loving every second of embracing my body without the toxic Victoria’s Secret brand.

Consider how your purchases make an impact. Be conscious of your choices. Support organic cotton, handmade clothing, and natural fabrics. Stop buying stuff that’s not only impacting your health but the health of the planet.

You are so sexy all on your own.