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Cannabis users' increased risk of hospital admission

Tuesday June 28th 2022

Canadian researchers have called for curbs on the globally rising levels of recreational cannabis because users have an increased risk of needing emergency care and hospital admission for any cause.

Writing in Open Respiratory Research, they say their findings shows the drug is not as harmless as some people think it is.

The researchers, led by the University of Toronto, linked national health survey and health records data for 35,114 Ontario residents, aged 12 to 65, from January 2009 to December 2015.

Out of the total, 4,087 said they had used cannabis in the previous 12 months, while 10,395 said they had never used it, used it only once or more than 12 months ago.

The research team took account of 31 factors, including several physical and mental health conditions; indicators of general healthcare use; previous emergency room visits or hospital admissions for respiratory health issues; tobacco smoking history; problem drinking and other substance misuse.

They also assessed emergency room visits and hospital admissions for any reason as well as death from any cause up to 12 months after the date they said they used cannabis.

The overall odds of dying from any cause and an emergency room visit or hospital admission for a respiratory issue did not differ significantly between the two groups, and when the data were stratified by gender, previous hospital care for a respiratory problem, smoking, and a diagnosis of asthma or COPD, no significant differences emerged between the two groups either.

However, cannabis users had a 22% greater risk of visiting an emergency room or hospital admission for any cause. And respiratory health reasons were the second most common cause (14%) after acute trauma (15%).

The authors say they cannot establish cause because it is an observational study and acknowledge that they were unable to differentiate between medical and recreational cannabis use, potency and quantity, or whether cannabis was eaten or smoked.

They conclude: “Further research is needed to confirm our findings, but our results suggest that cannabis use is associated with increased risk for serious adverse health events, and therefore, its recreational consumption in the general population should be discouraged.”

Vozoris NT, Zhu J, Ryan CM et al. Cannabis use and risks of respiratory and all-cause morbidity and mortality: a population-based, data-linkage, cohort study. Open Respiratory Research 28 June 2022; doi 10.1136/bmjresp-2022-001216

[abstract]

Tags: A&E | Alternative Therapy | North America

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