Epidemiological overview of multidimensional chromosomal and genome toxicity of cannabis exposure in congenital anomalies and cancer development


Cannabis and cannabinoids are implicated in multiple genotoxic, epigenotoxic and chromosomal-toxic mechanisms and interact with several morphogenic pathways, likely underpinning previous reports of links between cannabis and congenital anomalies and heritable tumours. However the effects of cannabinoid genotoxicity have not been assessed on whole populations and formal consideration of effects as a broadly acting genotoxin remain unexplored. Our study addressed these knowledge gaps in USA datasets. Cancer data from CDC, drug exposure data from National Survey of Drug Use and Health 2003–2017 and congenital anomaly data from National Birth Defects Prevention Network were used. We show that cannabis, THC cannabigerol and cannabichromene exposure fulfill causal criteria towards first Principal Components of both: (A) Down syndrome, Trisomies 18 and 13, Turner syndrome, Deletion 22q11.2, and (B) thyroid, liver, breast and pancreatic cancers and acute myeloid leukaemia, have mostly medium to large effect sizes, are robust to adjustment for ethnicity, other drugs and income in inverse probability-weighted models, show prominent non-linear effects, have 55/56 e-Values > 1.25, and are exacerbated by cannabis liberalization (P = 9.67 × 10–43, 2.66 × 10–15). The results confirm experimental studies showing that cannabinoids are an important cause of community-wide genotoxicity impacting both birth defect and cancer epidemiology at the chromosomal hundred-megabase level.