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Smoking Cannabis Virtually Doubles the Risk of Developing Mental Illness such as Schizophrenia

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The media are often guilty of presenting studies in a way that leads to misinterpretation by the public. A recent BBC news article reads “Cannabis use ‘raises psychosis risk’ – Study” and the Daily Mail warns “Cannabis use ‘doubles risk of psychosis for teenagers”. Such headlines give the impression that there has been a clear causal relationship found between smoking cannabis and the development of mental illnesses (News, 2011; Hope, 2011).
Kuepper et al. (2011), the study referred to above, reported that cannabis use is a risk factor for the development of incident psychotic symptoms (short-lasting individual symptoms). They found that cannabis users were almost twice as likely to report incident psychotic symptoms (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] of 1.9). Kuepper et al. said continued use might increase the risk of developing a psychotic disorder due to increased incidents— Referring to Cougnard et al. (2007) who suggested that increased persistence of environmental triggers might lead to conditions that are more serious: Kuepper et al. suggested that the increased incident psychotic symptoms could lead to greater persistence of symptoms with those predisposed to developing a psychotic disorder, such as schizophrenia.
Other studies over recent years have reported similar associations between cannabis use and incident psychotic symptoms in those with a predisposition for psychosis (Henquet et al., 2005). Lower risk for those without a predisposition for psychosis. Henquet et al. (2005) concluded that cannabis use moderately increases risk of psychotic symptoms, but has a stronger effect in those with a predisposition for psychotic symptoms.
A recent meta-analysis of major studies looking at the relationship between earlier onset o...


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...e, predisposition for psychosis, and psychotic symptoms in young people. BMJ, 330(11), doi: 10.1136/bmj.38267.664086.63.
Hope, J. (2011, March 3). Cannabis use 'doubles risk of psychosis for teenagers'. Retrieved March 8, 2011, from MailOnline: www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1361997/Cannabis-use-doubles-risk-psychosis-teenagers.html
Kuepper. (2011). Continued cannabis use and risk of incidence and persistence of psychotic symptoms: 10 year follow-up cohort study. BMJ, Published online March 1, 2011, doi: 10.1136/bmj.d738.
Large, M., Sharma, S., Compton, M., Slade, T., & Nielssen, O. (2011). Cannabis Use and Earlier Onset of Psychosis. Archives of General Psychiatry. Published online February 7, 2011. doi:10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2011.5.
Wade, D. (2005, February). Cannabis Use and Schizophrenia. American Journal of Psychiatry: Letter to the Editor, 162(401).


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