Ever wished you were a bit taller? How about 4 inches taller? If you smoked marijuana as a prepubescent boy, that wish may not have come true. Researchers at a university in Pakistan studied levels of hormones linked to growth and puberty in the blood of 217 boys addicted to marijuana and 220 who didn't smoke at all. They found that though levels of testosterone and luteinising hormone, linked to puberty, were higher among pot users, growth hormone levels were significantly lower. When researchers checked back in with the males at age 20, they found non-smokers were almost 9 pounds heavier and 4.6 inches taller on average than their smoking counterparts, Science Daily reports. Marijuana users may think the drug helps them relax, but researchers actually traced the cause to added stress on the body.
In saliva samples taken from 10 marijuana addicts, researchers found boosted levels of the stress hormone cortisol, the Belfast Telegraph reports. "Marijuana use may provoke a stress response that stimulates onset of puberty but suppresses growth rate," the study leader says, adding, "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." About 7% of youngsters aged 11 to 15, or 250,000 kids, used pot in England in 2013, reports the Daily Telegraph, but most cannabis users fall into the 15-to-24 age group. Scientists say the research, presented at a conference in Dublin, will provide insight into the effects of drug use on a child's growth and development. (For fully grown adults, there are now marijuana K-cups.)