Science says genes could help predict cannabis use

Long Lunch 30/08/2018
Photo: Unsplash.

Researchers have pinpointed 35 genes that could predict whether an individual is more likely to pick up a joint.

The study, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, used DNA samples from some 180,000 people to identify genetic overlap among cannabis users.

“The study has learned that genes also play a role in predicting cannabis use,” said study’s co-author Profressor Eske Derks, from Brisbane-based QIMR Berghofer Translational Neurogenomics Laboratory.

The 35 overlapping genes were linked to both likelihood of using cannabis and shared personality traits, explained Prof Derks, where certain types of personalities are more likely to give marijuana a go.

People could be more likely to try cannabis if they are risk-takers, enjoy seeking novelty, and or tend to think about consequences after the fact.  

However, Prof Derks emphasises that social and environmental factors still contribute to a person’s decision to try cannabis.

The study also found that the same genes could predict substance use overall.

35 genes were linked to the likelihood to try cannabis.

“We found a strong genetic link with tobacco smoking and also with alcohol dependence,” Prof Derks said.

A follow-up study will look at how genetics could predict cannabis addiction, which could potentially allow individuals to test themselves for any predispositions to addiction.  

Over 40 percent of Australians have tried cannabis at least once, according to Prof Derks. 

Listen to the full interview with Eske Derks above.

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