Cannabis use and risk of psychotic or affective mental health outcomes: a systematic review

Academic Unit of Psychiatry, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK.
The Lancet (Impact Factor: 39.21). 08/2007; 370(9584):319-28. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(07)61162-3
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Whether cannabis can cause psychotic or affective symptoms that persist beyond transient intoxication is unclear. We systematically reviewed the evidence pertaining to cannabis use and occurrence of psychotic or affective mental health outcomes.
We searched Medline, Embase, CINAHL, PsycINFO, ISI Web of Knowledge, ISI Proceedings, ZETOC, BIOSIS, LILACS, and MEDCARIB from their inception to September, 2006, searched reference lists of studies selected for inclusion, and contacted experts. Studies were included if longitudinal and population based. 35 studies from 4804 references were included. Data extraction and quality assessment were done independently and in duplicate.
There was an increased risk of any psychotic outcome in individuals who had ever used cannabis (pooled adjusted odds ratio=1.41, 95% CI 1.20-1.65). Findings were consistent with a dose-response effect, with greater risk in people who used cannabis most frequently (2.09, 1.54-2.84). Results of analyses restricted to studies of more clinically relevant psychotic disorders were similar. Depression, suicidal thoughts, and anxiety outcomes were examined separately. Findings for these outcomes were less consistent, and fewer attempts were made to address non-causal explanations, than for psychosis. A substantial confounding effect was present for both psychotic and affective outcomes.
The evidence is consistent with the view that cannabis increases risk of psychotic outcomes independently of confounding and transient intoxication effects, although evidence for affective outcomes is less strong. The uncertainty about whether cannabis causes psychosis is unlikely to be resolved by further longitudinal studies such as those reviewed here. However, we conclude that there is now sufficient evidence to warn young people that using cannabis could increase their risk of developing a psychotic illness later in life.

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    ABSTRACT: In the present study, we examined the relationship between cannabis involvement and suicidal ideation (SI), plan and attempt, differentiating the latter into planned and unplanned attempt, taking into account other substance involvement and psychopathology. We used two community-based twin samples from the Australian Twin Registry, including 9583 individuals (58.5% female, aged between 27 and 40). The Semi-Structured Assessment of the Genetics of Alcoholism (SSAGA) was used to assess cannabis involvement which was categorized into: (0) no cannabis use (reference category); (1) cannabis use only; (2) 1-2 cannabis use disorder symptoms; (3) 3 or more symptoms. Separate multinomial logistic regression analyses were conducted for SI and suicide attempt with or without a plan. Twin analyses examined the genetic overlap between cannabis involvement and SI. All levels of cannabis involvement were related to SI, regardless of duration (odds ratios [ORs]=1.28-2.00, p<0.01). Cannabis use and endorsing ≥3 symptoms were associated with unplanned (SANP; ORs=1.95 and 2.51 respectively, p<0.05), but not planned suicide attempts (p>0.10). Associations persisted even after controlling for other psychiatric disorders and substance involvement. Overlapping genetic (rG=0.45) and environmental (rE=0.21) factors were responsible for the covariance between cannabis involvement and SI. Cannabis involvement is associated, albeit modestly, with SI and unplanned suicide attempts. Such attempts are difficult to prevent and their association with cannabis use and cannabis use disorder symptoms requires further study, including in different samples and with additional attention to confounders. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd.


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May 20, 2014