Sobering facts on marijuana

With clever names like Peace of Mind, Girl Scout Cookies, Train Wreck and Tsunami, it's a good bet that the marketers of legal marijuana finished high school. That's less certain for their younger customers. New research shows daily marijuana use before the age of 17 cuts your chances of graduating from high school or getting a college degree by 60 percent.

Now that marijuana is legal for recreational use in Washington and Colorado, and for medical purposes in 19 other states plus the District of Columbia, scientists are able to study the drug more closely. The result is an outpouring of data on marijuana's formerly unknown or underappreciated risks.

One new study found that 40 percent of cannabis-using adolescents receiving treatment for substance abuse report symptoms of withdrawal — a true marker for drug dependence. And kids are eight times more likely to use illicit drugs later in life if they smoke marijuana regularly.

Another study found that adolescents who smoke pot daily shed an average of six IQ points by adulthood; points you're not getting back, and that can mean the difference between an engaged, rewarding life and not!

So just because the drug is legal in some places, doesn't mean it's smart to use it.

MUSCLE MAGIC

Teddy Roosevelt was a Rough Rider in the Spanish-American War, but he was a 90-pound weakling as a youngster, suffering from asthma, gastroenteritis, fevers and general failure to thrive … until a doctor and his father told him he had to start exercising. From age 12 to 17 he challenged himself daily, pumping iron and boxing, and he overcame his life-threatening health problems.

Teddy worked out, and his life worked out pretty well! You need to get (and stay) pumped up, too. Around age 30, muscle mass starts declining. That's especially true if you, like 79 percent of North Americans, are sedentary. And even if you're active, you're going to need to push it to overcome an age-related, muscle-defeating decline in hormones and protein synthesis. Losing muscle mass makes you vulnerable to everything from obesity to falls.

The good news? You can increase your strength 25 percent to 30 percent, and add over two pounds of muscle in around 18 weeks with progressive resistance training. To start, use your own body weight as resistance. Three days a week, do exercises like push-ups and sit-ups or yoga, tai chi and Pilates. Dr. Mike's Cleveland Clinic suggests you choose eight exercises and do 10-12 reps of each. Then graduate to resistance bands or 1-2 pound hand weights. About every two weeks, increase your number of reps (up to 12) or speed and/or weight.

SPORTS VARIETY HELPS KIDS AVOID REPETITIVE USE INJURIES

Not long ago, seasonal athletics gave kids the option of participating in several different sports over the course of a school year. One athlete who knew that was the smart way to play it was baseball Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson. He was the first athlete in UCLA history to letter in four different sports in one year (track, basketball, football and baseball!).

These days, that's nearly impossible. Many coaches claim that the only way for a kid to develop into a starter on a varsity team is to be dedicated to only one sport and make a commitment to yearlong training. Ironically, that might just make it impossible for your child to play any varsity sport. Here's why:

Young athletes who specialize in one sport run a 40 percent higher risk of a repetitive or overuse injury, such as stress fracture or tendon damage. Growth plates, areas of developing cartilage, as well as bones, ligaments and tendons, all mature at different rates. So while some parts of the arm might be strong enough for pitching regularly, the elbow joint might not be. Repetitive stress can cause it to develop abnormally and permanently interfere with functioning.

So, if you want your budding athlete to enjoy sports all through school — and as an adult — keep her or him safe from overuse injuries.

And make sure fun comes first!

Dr. Mehmet Oz is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Dr. Michael Roizen is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. For more information go to www.sharecare.com.

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