Link Between Cannabis Use And Schizophrenia Is Genetic: Study
June 24, 2014

Link Between Cannabis Use And Schizophrenia Is Genetic: Study

Brett Smith for - Your Universe Online

Previous research has found a link between cannabis use and schizophrenia and a new study has revealed that the link is a genetic predisposition for both.

Published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, the new study noted that although there appears to be a genetic link, the possibility that cannabis use increases the risk of schizophrenia shouldn’t be ruled out.

"Studies have consistently shown a link between cannabis use and schizophrenia,” said study author Robert Power, a psychiatrist at King's College London. “We wanted to explore whether this is because of a direct cause and effect, or whether there may be shared genes which predispose individuals to both cannabis use and schizophrenia."

The new study considered data from more than 2,000 healthy people including over 1,000 that admitted to using the illegal drug. Study researchers examined each volunteer’s genetic risk profile – or the genes they carried that are related to schizophrenia.

The team discovered that men and women genetically pre-disposed to schizophrenia were more prone to use marijuana, and use it in greater levels than those who did not have schizophrenia-related genes.

"We know that cannabis increases the risk of schizophrenia,” Power said. “Our study certainly does not rule this out, but it suggests that there is likely to be an association in the other direction as well – that a pre-disposition to schizophrenia also increases your likelihood of cannabis use."

"Our study highlights the complex interactions between genes and environments when we talk about cannabis as a risk factor for schizophrenia,” he added. “Certain environmental risks, such as cannabis use, may be more likely given an individual's innate behavior and personality, itself influenced by their genetic make-up. This is an important finding to consider when calculating the economic and health impact of cannabis."

The new study comes just as the New York State senate has passed a bill approving the use of medical marijuana. Governor Andrew Cuomo has expressed reservations about the legislation due to law enforcement concerns. However, the Compassionate Care Act is being called a compromise between those concerns and the health concerns of New York residents seeking relief from their ailments.

“There are certainly significant medical benefits that can be garnered; at the same time, it’s a difficult issue because there are also risks that have to be averted,” Governor Cuomo told the New York Times on Friday. “We believe this bill strikes the right balance.”

The Compassionate Care Act will allow patients to either inhale vaporized extracts of marijuana’s active ingredients, or to consume them in food. While the New York State Department of Health will oversee how medical cannabis will be allowed in the state, Cuomo will have the capacity to end the program at any time. The law is set to expire after a period of seven years, but lawmakers will have the option of renewing it.

Among the conditions that qualify patients to use medical marijuana use are AIDS, cancer, epilepsy and several serious degenerative conditions.

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