Self-reported marijuana use over 25 years and abdominal
adiposity: the Coronary Artery Risk Development in
Young Adults (CARDIA) Study
Michael P. Bancks
, Reto Auer
, J. Jeffrey Carr
, David C. Goff Jr.
*, Catarina Kiefe
Jamal S. Rana
, Stephen Sidney
& Pamela J. Schreiner
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL, USA,
Institute of Primary Health Care (BIHAM), University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland,
Radiology, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN, USA,
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Bethesda, MD, USA,
University of Massachusetts
Medical School, Worcester, MA, USA,
Kaiser Permanente Division of Cardiology, Oakland, CA, USA,
Department of Medicine, University of California San
Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA,
Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente Northern California, Oakland, CA, USA
and University of Minnesota, School of Public
Health, Minneapolis, MN, USA
We investigated the association between cumulative lifetime and current marijuana use with total abdominal ad-
ipose tissue (AT), visceral AT, subcutaneous AT, intermuscular AT, and mean liver attenuation (LA) at mid-life.
Longitudinal and cross-sectional secondary data analysis of participants in the Coronary Artery Risk Develop-
ment in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study.
CARDIA ﬁeld centers in Birmingham, AL; Chicago, IL; Minneapolis,
MN; and Oakland, CA, USA.
CARDIA participants, aged 18–30 years in 1985–1986, who were present
at the clinic examination in 2010–2011 (n =2902).
Marijuana use was assessed from responses to
self-administered questionnaires at 8 CARDIA examinations over 25 years, determined as cumulative marijuana-years
and current use status. Non-contrast computed tomography imaging of the abdomen was obtained in 2010–2011.
In 2010–2011, 84% of participants reported a history of marijuana use with 11% reporting use within the
past 30 days. Before adjustment, we observed greater cumulative marijuana use was associated with lower total abdom-
inal and subcutaneous AT volume and lower LA and current marijuana use was associated with lower subcutaneous AT.
However, after adjustment for age, sex, race, ﬁeld center, cigarette pack-years and current use, regular alcohol consump-
tion, cumulative drink-years, and physical activity, neither cumulative marijuana use nor current use showed an
association with any abdominal adipose depot. Our estimates did not differ by age, sex, or race nor after accounting for
Neither cumulative marijuana use nor current marijuana use is associated with total
abdominal, visceral, subcutaneous, or intermuscular adipose tissue, or liver attenuation in mid-life.
Keywords Abdominal adiposity, computed tomography, epidemiology, marijuana use, observational, young adulthood.
Correspondence to: Mike Bancks, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Department of Preventive Medicine, 680 N Lake Shore Drive, Suite
1400, Chicago, IL 60611, USA. E-mail: email@example.com
Submitted 8 May 2017; initial review completed 15 August 2017; ﬁnal version accepted 1 November 2017
*This work was completed while DC Goff was at the Colorado School of Public Health. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not
necessarily represent the views of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; National Institutes of Health; or the United States Department of Health and
Marijuana is one of the 3 most used psychoactive sub-
stances in the United States (US), with nearly 38 million in-
dividuals 12 years of age and older using marijuana during
the past year in 2016 . Whether the growing utilization
of marijuana for medicinal use has an impact on the prev-
alence of recreational use and abuse/dependence is unclear
[2–4]. Acute cardiovascular health effects of marijuana
use include increased heart rate , trigger for myocardial
infarction , and acute respiratory conditions [7,8]. Data
on the chronic health effects associated with long-term
marijuana use yield mixed ﬁndings [7,9]. It is unclear
whether marijuana use is associated with the incidence
of cancer [10–13] or pulmonary disease and poorer pul-
monary function [14–18], but data suggest no association
of marijuana use with diabetes  or mortality .
Given the prevalence of marijuana use, mounting
© 2017 Society for the Study of Addiction Addiction, 113,689–698