Cannabis use associated with—but not causally related to—chronic kidney disease

Of Lydia Karuki

According to a new study published in the journal Kidney Medicine, cannabis use is not linked in any way to chronic kidney disease (CKD). Previously, cannabis use was linked to a variety of harms, including kidney disease. This theory has recommended the use of medicinal cannabis in CKD.

However, this new study could change things and give patients access to medical cannabis treatment despite having kidney disease.

Photo by Julien Tromeur via Unsplash

Details of the study

Dellepiane and Paranjpe conducted a retrospective review study based on data from 22,354 participants; those who have never used cannabis, monthly users, weekly users and daily users. From this, the researchers found 89,132 participants who used cannabis frequently.

Unlike other studies that have been biased towards the stigma associated with cannabis, this study attempted to establish causality other than just a link between cannabis use and kidney disease. To that end, researchers first identified a positive association between cannabis use and kidney disease.

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It’s important to note that previous studies stopped at this point and concluded that cannabis causes CKD. The researchers in this study use Mendelian randomization as a method of measuring variation in genes to determine the presence of a causal relationship in observational studies. There was no causal effect linking cannabis use to kidney disease.

Preliminary research has shown that patients with kidney disease may benefit from cannabis use. A study conducted by Canadian nephrologists found some benefit of cannabis in relieving the symptoms of CKD.

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Another study published in Nephrology and Hypertension in 2020 found that cannabis use does not impair kidney function in healthy individuals. Further studies are needed to provide clearer direction in this area. Meanwhile, excluding CKD patients from legal medical cannabis programs seems misguided.

This article originally appeared on and has been republished with permission.

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