Acute lymphoid leukaemia (ALL) is the commonest childhood cancer whose incidence is rising in many nations. In the USA, between 1975 and 2016, ALL rates (ALLRs) rose 93.51% from 1.91 to 3.70/100,000 < 20 years. ALL is more common in Caucasian-Americans than amongst minorities. The cause of both the rise and the ethnic differential is unclear, however, prenatal cannabis exposure was previously linked with elevated childhood leukaemia rates. We investigated epidemiologically if cannabis use impacted nationally on ALLRs, its ethnic effects, and if the relationship was causal.
State data on overall, and ethnic ALLR from the Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results databank of the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and National Cancer Institute (NCI) were combined with drug (cigarettes, alcoholism, cannabis, analgesics, cocaine) use data from the National Survey of Drug Use and Health; 74.1% response rate. Income and ethnicity data was from the US Census bureau. Cannabinoid concentration was from the Drug Enforcement Agency Data. Data was analyzed in R by robust and spatiotemporal regression.
In bivariate analyses a dose-response relationship was demonstrated between ALLR and Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), cocaine and cannabis exposure, with the effect of cannabis being strongest (β-estimate = 3.33(95%C.I. 1.97, 4.68), P = 1.92 × 10 − 6 ). A strong effect of cannabis use quintile on ALLR was noted (Chi.Sq. = 613.79, P = 3.04 × 10 − 70 ). In inverse probability weighted robust regression adjusted for other substances, income and ethnicity, cannabis was independently significant (β-estimate = 4.75(0.48, 9.02), P = 0.0389). In a spatiotemporal model adjusted for all drugs, income, and ethnicity, cannabigerol exposure was significant (β-estimate = 0.26(0.01, 0.52), P = 0.0444), an effect increased by spatial lagging (THC: β-estimate = 0.47(0.12, 0.82), P = 0.0083). After missing data imputation ethnic cannabis exposure was significant (β-estimate = 0.64(0.55, 0.72), P = 3.1 × 10 − 40 ). 33/35 minimum e-Values ranged from 1.25 to 3.94 × 10 ³⁶ indicative of a causal relationship. Relaxation of cannabis legal paradigms had higher ALLR (Chi.Squ.Trend = 775.12, P = 2.14 × 10 − 112 ). Cannabis legal states had higher ALLR (2.395 ± 0.039 v. 2.127 ± 0.008 / 100,000, P = 5.05 × 10 − 10 ).
Data show that ALLR is associated with cannabis consumption across space-time, is associated with the cannabinoids, THC, cannabigerol, cannabinol, cannabichromene, and cannabidiol, contributes to ethnic differentials, demonstrates prominent quintile effects, satisfies criteria for causality and is exacerbated by cannabis legalization.