Study: Link Between Cannabis Use Disorder and Schizophrenia Highest Among Young Men

(Addiction Policy Forum) Young men with cannabis use disorder (CUD) are at an increased risk of developing schizophrenia, a new study has found. Researchers estimated that up to 30% of cases of schizophrenia among men aged 21-30 might have been prevented if CUD had been averted.

Previous research has found that the use of THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, can trigger or worsen schizophrenia, and that this risk increases along with frequency of cannabis use. This study sought to explore the association between CUD and schizophrenia across genders and ages and to uncover the differences among those cohorts. It found that CUD increases the risk of schizophrenia and worsens symptoms in existing cases in both men and women, and that the effects are greater among men and greatest among young men.

According to the study, 15% of schizophrenia cases among males in 2021 were attributable to CUD, and the number rose as the age of the men decreased. Researchers also attributed about 4% of cases among women to CUD. The association between CUD and schizophrenia among men and women older than 26 were similar, but in the younger age groups there was a marked difference. For 16-20 year olds, the association among men was nearly double that among women. For ages 21-25, the association among men was 50% greater than that among women.

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