Opinions Sat, 17 Sep 2011

Heavy Dose Of Wee May Have Damaged Akufo-Addo’s Gum

A number of medical doctors who the Daily Post has been talking too say heavy wee smoking may have damaged the gum of NPP flagbearer, Nana Akufo-Addo, resulting in the loss of a number of his teeth and compelling him to wear dentures.

Recent revelations from leaked United States cables by international whistleblower, wikileaks, confirmed the fact the NPP flagbearer is a known user of illicit drugs, that is cocaine and wee. Confirming that Akufo-Addo smokes wee, Mr. Kwesi Pratt Jnr, who says he has known Nana Akufo-Addo for over twenty years, was recorded telling an official of the U.S. embassy in Accra that“ Nana used to smoke a lot of marijuana…and I’m telling you, a lot. Even in the morning, there used to be a cloud around him and you could see that he was high”

According to the medical doctors who all pleaded anonymity for obvious reasons, anyone who smokes wee, especially “a lot”, may be exposed to gum disease making it impossible for it to hold the person’s teeth.

It is a fact that Nana Akufo Addo wears dentures. In the run-up to the 2008 elections, at the GHAPOHA club house in Takoradi, he is reported to have slipped and fallen, sending the dentures dropping from his mouth. Later in an interview with a radio station, Mr. Mustapha Hamid, then Nana Akufo-Addo’s Spokespersonconfirmed the fall and the issue of the dentures droppingfrom his mouth.

The issue of Nana Akufo-Addo’s dentures may be yet another confirmation that he smokes wee a lot especially as he is not known to have lost his teeth in an accident. That smoking wee can affect a person’s gum was confirmed by a health website, Medscapenews today.

In a publication headed ‘CANNABIS USE MAY CAUSE GUM DISEASE, the website reported that “ A new study shows the risk of having significant periodontal disease among 32-year-old heavy cannabis users is about 3 times that of young people who do not use the drug, New Zealand researchers report. Their findings are published in the February 6 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Although a growing body of evidence points to the damaging effects of tobacco on the gums, this is the first study to show that cannabis has a similar deleterious effect, said the study's lead author, W. Murray Thomson, PhD, professor of dental epidemiology and public health, in the department of oral sciences, at Sir John Walsh Research Institute, School of Dentistry, in Dunedin, New Zealand. Exposure to Cannabis Measured Dr. Thomson and his colleagues used data on 903 subjects who were part of the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study, a longitudinal study of children born at Queen Mary Hospital, in Dunedin, between April 1, 1972 and March 31, 1973. The study collected data on these subjects at ages 18, 21, 26, and 32 years, with the most recent data being collected in June 2005, when they were 32 years old.

To measure cannabis exposure, participants were asked at age 18, 21, 26, and 32 years how many times in the previous year they had used cannabis. They were then placed in 1 of 3 categories: "none" for no exposure; "some" exposure (a mean of 1 to 40 times); and "high" exposure (41 or more times). Of the 903 subjects, 293 (32.3%) fell into the "none" exposure to cannabis group; 428 (47.4%) in the "some" group; and 182 (20.2%) in the "high" group.

Dental examinations that included gum-recession measurements at 3 sites for each tooth were conducted on the subjects at age 26 years and again 6 years later. At age 32 years, 265 study participants (29.3%) had 1 or more sites with some gum disease (4 mm or greater loss of tissue supporting the gums), and 111 participants (12.3%) had 1 or more sites with the more severe gum disease (5 mm or greater tissue loss). After controlling for potentially confounding factors such as tobacco smoking, sex, socioeconomic status, and irregular dental service, the researchers found that the highest cannabis users were 1.61 times more likely to have at least 1 gum site with the milder gum disease compared than those who had never smoked cannabis. The heavy pot-smoking group was 3.13 times more likely to have the more severe gum disease than the group that had never used the drug. "If this is happening to their gums, you can imagine what it [smoking marijuana] is doing elsewhere — for example, to the lungs," commented Dr. Thomson, who is also editor of the New Zealand Dental Journal.

Gum Disease Common Chronic Disease In Adults Periodontal disease is 1 of the most common chronic diseases of adulthood. It can result in loss of supporting connective tissue and possibly lead eventually to tooth loss. Tobacco smoking has been linked to gum disease through the adverse effects of nicotine and other toxic substances found in tobacco.

Cannabis does not contain nicotine, but it does have at least 400 other toxic substances, including a relatively high tar content, that can affect the gums through the circulation, said Dr. Thomson. "We know there's a lot of carbon monoxide when you inhale any sort of smoke, and carbon monoxide is a systemic poison that affects the body's ability to carry oxygen around the body." With the presence of these toxins, "the peripheral circulation isn't going to be as efficient, and your peripheral tissues — and we count the gums among those and things like fingers and toes and facial tissues —- are going to be less well nourished, less resistant to an insult," said Dr. Thomson.

Cannabis Smokers Inhale Deeply Cannabis smokers also tend to inhale deeply and hold the smoke, said Dr. Thomson. This prolongs the absorption of the toxins from the smoke into the circulation, he said. In New Zealand, he added, cannabis cigarettes are typically not mixed with tobacco and are smoked unfiltered.

The authors said this study should underline the need for dental and medical practitioners to take steps to raise awareness of the strong probability that regular cannabis use can damage gums and teeth.

An accompanying editorial, by Dr. Philippe P. Hujoel, PhD, from the University of Washington, in Seattle, said the study adds to the growing evidence that gum disease occurs at a much younger age than was previously believed — long before other smoking-related disease such as diabetes and heart disease.

He said the dental profession "has an opportunity to detect the early clinical signs of unhealthy lifestyles, including potential drug abuse, and could play a role with physicians in addressing the challenge of reducing chronic non-communicable diseases."

Columnist: Daily Post