Smoking heightens risk of psychoses

March 12, 2018, Academy of Finland
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Smoking at least 10 cigarettes a day is linked to a higher risk of psychoses compared to non-smoking young people. The risk is also raised if the smoking starts before the age of 13. This has been shown in a study led by Academy Research Fellow, Professor Jouko Miettunen. The results were recently published in the journal Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica.

"This was an extensive longitudinal study based on the general population. It revealed that daily and heavy smoking are independently linked to the subsequent of psychoses, even when accounting for previous psychotic experiences, the use of alcohol and drugs, substance abuse and the parents' history of psychoses. Smoking begun at an early age was a particularly significant risk factor. Based on the results, prevention of adolescent smoking is likely to have positive effects on the mental health of the population in later life," Miettunen says.

The aim of the study was to investigate whether 's daily cigarette is associated with a risk of psychoses, after accounting for several known, confounding factors, such as alcohol and drug use, the hereditary taint of psychoses and early symptoms of psychosis.

The research material comprised the 1986 birth cohort of Northern Finland and it originally included more than 9,000 people. 15- to 16-year-old members of the cohort were invited to participate in a follow-up study carried out in 2001–2002. The final sample included 6,081 subjects who answered questions on psychotic experiences and alcohol and drug use. The follow-up continued until the subjects had reached the age of 30.

The research team has also conducted a study on use, which has been published in the British Journal of Psychiatry. The study found that teenage cannabis use is associated with an increased risk of psychosis. It also showed that people who had used cannabis and had psychotic experiences early in life experienced more psychoses during the period of study.

"We found that young people who had used cannabis at least five times had a heightened risk of psychoses during the follow-up, even when accounting for previous , use of alcohol and drugs and the parents' history of . Our findings are in line with current views of heavy cannabis use, particularly when begun at an early age, being linked to an increased risk of psychosis. Based on our results, it's very important that we take notice of cannabis-using young people who report symptoms of psychosis. If possible, we should strive to prevent early-stage cannabis use," says Antti Mustonen.

Explore further: Risk of psychotic experiences up with teen cannabis use

More information: Antti Mustonen et al. Adolescent cannabis use, baseline prodromal symptoms and the risk of psychosis, The British Journal of Psychiatry (2018). DOI: 10.1192/bjp.2017.52

A. Mustonen et al. Smokin' hot: adolescent smoking and the risk of psychosis, Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica (2018). DOI: 10.1111/acps.12863

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