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People At Higher Risk Of Schizophrenia Are Likelier To Try Marijuana, Says New Study

22 December 2016, 8:21 am EST By Saranya Palanisamy Tech Times
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People at increased risk of schizophrenia are more likely to use marijuana, reports a recent study.

Earlier this year, experts warned on the elevated risk of psychosis in people who use cannabis, especially those who are mentally vulnerable. International drugs experts noted that even if not everyone who smokes marijuana develops psychosis, there are high chances for vulnerable ones to develop the condition, which could be huge public health concern.

Schizophrenia Risk And Marijuana Use

Meanwhile, the researchers from the University of Bristol recently found an opposite association between cannabis use and schizophrenia. With caution for the need of in depth research on the topic, the investigators revealed that people at high risk of schizophrenia tend to try marijuana. It is also noted that such an association adds to the growing body of evidence that people may depend on drugs as means of self-medication.

Dr Suzi Gage, Research Associate with the MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit said that the findings suggest that individuals with schizophrenia risk are more likely to use cannabis. The investigator also added that the association could be functioning in both the directions. It is also noted that the study doesn't accurately relate the risk of schizophrenia with marijuana use but provides valuable evidence on the possibility.

Study Using Mendelian Randomization Technique

For the purpose of the study, the researchers analyzed a number of genome-wide association studies conducted earlier with the help of Mendelian Randomization (MR) techniques. The mentioned instrumental variable analysis technique was used to analyze the two risk factors with the help of genetic variants.

It is to be noted that the researchers used MR for the study in place of widely used observational epidemiology considering other factors that could affect the association. It is also underscored that people inclined to marijuana could be different in a number of ways from their counterparts who don't use the drug.

Evidence On Schizophrenia Risk With Marijuana Use

With the help of the novel technique a strong evidence for the association between schizophrenia risk and marijuana use is found in the study, noted Gage. Given that the study doesn't rule out the contribution of marijuana use in elevating the risk of schizophrenia. Further research warrants in depth idea on the topic.

"In this study we could only look at cannabis initiation," said Gage in a press release. "What would really help progress this research is to use genetic variants that predict heaviness of cannabis use, as it seems that heavy cannabis use is most strongly associated with risk of schizophrenia."

The study is published in the journal Psychological Medicine.

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