According to a recent study, the use of cannabis is associated with lower mortality risk in patients with schizophrenia and other related psychotic disorders.
The research was conducted by an international team from the University of Maryland School of Medicine and Inje University in South Korea. They investigated the effect a lifetime history of substance abuse had on mortality in 762 subjects with schizophrenia or related disorders.
They reported, "[W]e observed a lower mortality risk-adjusted variable in cannabis-users compared to cannabis non-users despite subjects having similar symptoms and anti-psychotic treatments."
The speculated reason for this maybe because "cannabis users may (be) higher functions" and "cannabis itself may have some health benefits."
Their conclusion: "To our knowledge, this is one of the first studies to examine the risk of mortality with cannabis and alcohol in people with PD (psychotic disorders). This interesting finding of decreased mortality risk ... in cannabis users is a novel finding and one that will need replication in larger epidemiological studies."
Dr. Lester Grinpoon, a NORML Board Member and former Harvard Medical School professor, agrees that the promising study still requires replication in more trials. He says, "In reading the cannabis literature over the years, I have learned to be somewhat skeptical about any single report and to maintain a 'wait and see' posture as new data eventually flesh out the reality."
The connection between cannabis use and psychotic disorders is still not well understood by the scientific community. Studies have gone in both directions, and the different findings are debated and critiqued. Some studies associate cannabis use with higher cognitive function, while other research finds that heavy cannabis use, especially at an early age, may play a role in precipitating or exacerbating such disorders in those already vulnerable to them.
The study, titled "Alcohol and cannabis use and mortality in people with schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders," will appear in the Journal of Psychiatric Research. The abstract is available online now, at this link.
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