The Barcelona hospital Vall d'Hebron has participated in the largest international study so far carried out looking at the relationship between cannabis use and mental pathologies. One of the facts that has been revealed are new genetic regions related to the consumption of the plant and diseases such as schizophrenia.
24% of genetic base
This international study, in which 184,765 patients participated, shows that 24% of the genetic base that predisposes people to consume cannabis is shared with the genetic basis of schizophrenia. Which means that people who suffer from this mental pathology have a higher risk of consuming cannabis.
16 new genetic regions
In total 16 new genetic regions have been revealed in this study that predispose cannabis use throughout life. This work has been published by the scientific journal Nature Neuroscience and includes the participation of medical professionals from Vall d'Hebron, Hospital Campus de Barcelona.
Number of participants increases fivefold
This study is five times larger than the previous largest work on the relationship between cannabis use and mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, analysing samples of some 184,765 patients.
Participation of Vall d'Hebron
Dr. Marta Ribasés, principal investigator of the Psychiatry, Mental Illness and Addictions group at the Vall d'Hebron Research Institute (VHIR), explained that
"this study has revealed 16 new genetic regions involved in the vulnerability to use cannabis, an important fact that is very important in understanding the genetic basis of the use of this substance. In fact, the work confirms that there is a genetic component involved in the act of consuming cannabis throughout one’s life."
From two genetic regions to sixteen
It seems that until now only two genetic regions related to cannabis use were known.
It seems that until now only two genetic regions related to cannabis use were known. "The fact that this new work brings 16 new regions is a very important advance", remarked Dr. Ribasés in a press release issued by Vall d'Hebron, Hospital Campus de Barcelona.
"It has confirmed that the relationship between cannabis use and schizophrenia is partly determined by a shared genetic basis. 24% of the genetic base that predisposes people to consume cannabis is shared with the genetic basis of schizophrenia. This study indicates that people suffering from schizophrenia have a higher risk of consuming cannabis, "said Dr. Marta Ribasés.
On the other hand, the study also shows a genetic correlation between the vulnerability to the consumption of cannabis throughout life and the consumption of alcohol or tobacco and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). Dr. Josep Antoni Ramos-Quiroga, head of the Psychiatry Service of Vall d'Hebron University Hospital and principal investigator of the Psychiatry, Mental Health and Addictions group at VHIR, also noted that this discovery "will help us to better understand the relationship between cannabis use and serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and therefore, develop individualized treatment.
An unanswered interview
In other publications we have read that a study by the University of New Mexico has linked cannabis and schizophrenia, this time as a possible treatment of the disease, using CBD. We would have loved to discuss this research in more depth with the medical professionals of Vall d'Hebron, but after weeks of contact they decided not to answer our questionnaire, which is why we leave you here all the questions we have circling in our head.
- Cannabis has always been related as a possible trigger of schizophrenia in cases where there was a genetic predisposition to the disease. Does this study reverse this claim?
- With studies like this, are you closer towards determining in advance which people might be more likely to develop the disease?
- Could the finding of 16 new genetic regions be a step towards developing a treatment for the disease or moving more towards its prevention?
- To what extent can this study de-stigmatize the cannabis plant in society in relation to schizophrenia?
- Is there any relationship between gender and schizophrenia?
We hope that the science continues to advance and we can respond very soon to these issues that to us seem extremely important. Meanwhile, half of the world is still moving towards an integral regulation of a plant that has proven to be effective as a treatment in other types of diseases such as cancer or lupus.