A recent study analyzing genetic data from over 1 million people has found that those with cannabis use disorder share certain genetic markers. Cannabis use disorder refers to the continued, regular use of cannabis despite negative impacts on one's life, and individuals with this disorder often struggle to quit and require higher doses to feel its effects.
While the genetic link to problematic cannabis use has been explored before, this study is the first to examine a large sample across different racial backgrounds. The researchers examined the genetic information of individuals registered in the Million Veteran Program, which collects data from military members in the US. The sample included individuals from various ancestry groups, such as European, African, East Asian, and mixed race.
Using a technique called genetic correlation, the researchers compared variations in each person's DNA to see if they were associated with cannabis use disorder. They found that the pattern of genetic markers was very similar across different ancestries. For example, individuals with European ancestry showed a higher risk of developing cannabis use disorder when they had a strong expression of a neuronal receptor called CHRNA2.
The researchers also analyzed health records and found a link between lung cancer and cannabis use disorder for individuals with European ancestry, even when controlling for cigarette use. This raises concerns about a potential increase in lung cancer cases in the future, as cannabis use becomes more popular. However, it's important to note that any observable uptick in lung cancer cases would likely take decades to become evident.
This study provides valuable insights into the genetic factors associated with cannabis use disorder and highlights the need for further research in this area. It also raises awareness about the potential long-term health risks of cannabis use, particularly in relation to lung cancer. As the popularity of cannabis continues to grow, it is important for individuals to be aware of these potential risks and for healthcare professionals to monitor and address them accordingly.