People who develop cannabis use disorder share certain genetic markers, and this pattern is similar across racial groups, according to the largest study of its kind.
About one-third of people who identify themselves as regular cannabis users will develop cannabis use disorder – continued, regular use of the drug despite negative effects on one’s life. People suffering from cannabis use disorder often find it difficult to quit the drug and require larger and larger doses to feel effects.
“It’s possible that you could be a weekend-only user and still meet the criteria for cannabis use disorder, but it’s quite unlikely,” says Joel Gelernter at Yale School of Medicine. “These are mostly very frequent users.”
Genetic links to problematic cannabis use have been explored before, but this latest research is the first to look at a large sample across different racial backgrounds. Researchers examined genetic information from more than 1 million individuals registered in the Million Veteran Program, which collects data from military members in the US. Their sample included multiple ancestry groups such as European, African, East Asian, and mixed race. Then, using a technique called genetic correlation, they compared variations in each person’s DNA to see whether these were associated with a certain trait: in this case, cannabis use disorder.
“We found that the pattern was very similar in different lineages,” says Dan Levey of the Yale School of Medicine. They compared the variations in each person’s DNA and found that some were linked to a certain trait. For example, in people of European ancestry, stronger expression of a neuronal receptor called CHRNA2 was associated with a higher risk of developing cannabis use disorder.
The researchers also analyzed health records and found an association between lung cancer and the development of a cannabis use disorder in people of European descent, even when controlling for cigarette use. Gelernter says that, as a result, we may see an increase in cases of lung cancer – which often takes years to diagnose – as the popularity of cannabis increases. “If smoking increases the risk of lung cancer, the increase may not be seen until decades from now,” says Gelernter. “It’s something that people should keep an eye on.”
As the use of marijuana and its compounds increases around the world, new scientists Explores the latest research on the therapeutic potential of cannabis, how it is grown and its environmental impact, how cannabis affects our bodies and minds, and what the marijuana of the future will look like. Subject:
science of cannabis
As the use of marijuana and its compounds increases around the world, new scientists Explores the latest research on the therapeutic potential of cannabis, how it is grown and its environmental impact, how cannabis affects our bodies and minds, and what the marijuana of the future will look like.