About 30% of all cases of schizophrenia in young men are likely due to problematic cannabis use, according to a research article in the scientific journal Psychological Medicine.
The problematic use of cannabis (cannabis use disorder or CUD) occurs when there is a strong craving or high consumption of the drug, which can lead to giving up or limiting important social, occupational or recreational activities. The researchers used data from Denmark to examine how CUD is linked to schizophrenia.
Previous studies have already shown that excessive cannabis use can be linked to severe mental disorders, such as schizophrenia. This applies to both men and women. Now, researchers led by Carsten Hjorthøj from Copenhagen University Hospital have investigated for whom the risk is highest.
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The analysis found that in 2021, 15% of all types of schizophrenia in men in Denmark could have been prevented if they were not addicted to cannabis. For women, it was about 4%.
At 30%, the proportion is even a lot higher among young men aged between 21 and 30. The researchers thus conclude that CUD is a major risk factor for schizophrenia.