The Genetic Basis of Cannabis Use Disorder and Lung Cancer
A recent GWAS from Nature shows a correlation between lung cancer susceptibility and cannabis use disorder. This study was a meta-analysis between nearly 1 million individuals of European, African, mixed American, and East Asian ancestries and it examined single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) heritability. Using this data, the researchers found that 22 loci were associated with the susceptibility of lung cancer, but in each group, the expression of the SNPs was different. For instance, the East Asian sample group's SNPs were intronic to the semaphorin 6D-encoding gene, whereas the American group was an intergenic region downstream of leucine-rich repeats containing the semaphorin 6D-encoding gene. They used a comparative analysis of psychiatric symptoms and found many overlapping associations between cannabis use disorder and the likelihood of developing lung cancer. This association comes from a likelihood of becoming a smoker and resorting to cigarettes, which would most likely, in turn, result in a greater risk for lung cancer in those populations.
I found this study to be very interesting and it definitely shines some light on the addictive manner of cannabis and cannabis-containing products. The biological mechanism of cannabis and the cannabinoids involved are still not fully known, which I think is a long-term danger in regards to smoking/consuming cannabis products. Furthermore, those with cannabis use disorder being at a greater likelihood for developing lung cancer is scary to think about and could considerably be an element of medicine/psychiatry to dig deeper to in the meantime. Nevertheless, going forward I think we should be more conscientious of what we are breathing in and consuming, because with lung cancer being the top cause of death, that should be enough to scare us into treating our bodies better.