Cannabis Use, Pulmonary Function, and Lung Cancer Susceptibility: A Mendelian Randomization Study

International Lung Cancer Consortium

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10 Scopus citations


Introduction: Because of widespread use, understanding the pulmonary effects of cannabis use is important; but its role independent from tobacco smoking is yet to be elucidated. We used Mendelian randomization (MR) to assess the effect of genetic liability to lifetime cannabis use and cannabis use disorder on pulmonary function and lung cancer. Methods: We used four single nucleotide polymorphisms associated with lifetime cannabis use (p value <5 × 10−8) from a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of 184,765 individuals of European descent from the International Cannabis Consortium, 23andme, and U.K. Biobank as instrumental variables. Seven single nucleotide polymorphisms (p value <5 × 10−8) were selected as instruments for cannabis use disorder from a GWAS meta-analysis of 17,068 European ancestry cases and 357,219 controls of European descent from Psychiatric Genomics Consortium Substance Use Disorders working group, Lundbeck Foundation Initiative for Integrative PsychiatricResearch, and deCode. To assess lung function, GWAS included 79,055 study participants of the SpiroMeta Consortium, and for lung cancer GWAS from the International Lung Cancer Consortium contained 29,266 cases and 56,450 controls. Results: MR revealed that genetic liability to lifetime cannabis use was associated with increased risk of squamous cell carcinoma (OR = 1.22, 95%, confidence interval = 1.07–1.39, p value = 0.003, q value = 0.025). Pleiotropy-robust methods and positive and negative control analyses did not indicate bias in the primary analysis. Conclusions: The findings of this MR analysis suggest evidence for a potential causal association between genetic liability for cannabis use and the risk of squamous cell carcinoma. Triangulating MR and observational studies and addressing orthogonal sources of bias are necessary to confirm this finding.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1127-1135
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Thoracic Oncology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • Cannabis
  • Genetic susceptibility
  • Lung cancer
  • Mendelian randomization
  • Pulmonary function


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