Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Cannabis blamed for youth schizophrenia

cannabis joint
Today, Swiss newspaper headlines ran as follows: «Cannabis not that harmless», «More risky than many think», «Late adverse effects proven», «Do young men toke themselves into a psychosis?», «Does cannabis trigger schizophrenia?» - just to cite some. The newspaper reports and comments are based on new research findings and interviews with one of the study authors, Wulf Rössler, psychiatrist at the Zurich University Hospital.

Rössler and his team have monitored the rate of new admissions for schizophrenia in several age groups. In young men of fifteen to nineteen years of age, the admissions have tripled in the years between 1990 and 2002. A striking parallel increase has been observed in cannabis (marijuana) use of fifteen year old young men: In 1986, only twelve percent had ever smoked a cannabis joint, in 2002 this amount had increased to fifty percent.

In several interviews, Rössler admitted that this parallel increase of cannabis use and schizophrenia does not necessarily show a causal relationship. But he is convinced that cannabis is one of several causes of schizophrenia. He pleads for a better protection against cannabis in young age: «Someone who begins to smoke pot at the age of fourteen runs a higher risk of a mental illness than someone who begins at nineteen years of age.»

Photo credit: flickr.com/photos/smoking_gun/294232202/

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