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23andMe data suggest a connection between pot use and schizophrenia



If you smoke a pot, maybe it's because this trait is buried in your genes. And these genes can also be associated with mental disorders such as schizophrenia.

These are two important conclusions from a study published this week in Nature . The researchers identified eight areas on the human genome that showed a variance in the question of whether people smoked the pot, even though these areas accounted for 11% of the variance between smokers and abstainers. Many of the genes selected were not identified in previous studies.

The study is based on data from 23andMe, the U.K. Biobank, and the International Cannabis Consortium. Together, they offered researchers a sample size of nearly 1

85,000 volunteers, five times larger than the largest study to date.

Numerous studies in the past have found a link between cannabis use and schizophrenia, although there was disagreement, if any, with the other. This latest study showed that schizophrenia can lead to smoking and not the other way around.

"This suggests that people with schizophrenia are at a higher risk of consuming cannabis," says the study on the analysis of genetic data. "Our findings suggest that individuals at risk of developing schizophrenia have prodromal symptoms or negative affects that lead them to use cannabis for coping or self-medication."

The study also found a genetic overlap with cannabis use and other traits such as smoking and alcohol consumption, schizophrenia, ADHD and risk taking, although it was not investigated whether these traits also lead to higher cannabis use.

The authors of the study warned that, despite the largest sample size, there are other nongenetic factors that determine cannabis use, such as it is legally available and if cannabis is consumed in a particular area. The study also did not differentiate between occasional and regular cannabis use.


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