Background: Marijuana is legalized for medical use in 24 states and for recreational use in 5. However, effects of marijuana use on thyroid function and autoimmunity are unknown.
Methods: We performed a cross-sectional analysis of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) conducted between 2007 and 2012 to assess the effects of marijuana on thyroid function and autoimmunity in users. We included 5280 adults ages 18 to 69 years, who responded to questions related to marijuana use and had laboratory results related to thyroid parameters. Subjects were categorized as nonusers (never used), past users (used prior to 30 days ago), and recent users (used within last 30 days). Using NHANES normative cut offs for thyroid parameters, we compared recent users with nonusers and past users and calculated the odds ratios for the relative rate of clinically significant thyroid dysfunction in those groups. Multivariate logistic regression was then performed to control for confounders.
Results: Fifty-four percent of subjects reported lifetime cannabis use, with 15% using it recently. Univariate regression analysis showed that recent marijuana users had significantly lower frequency of elevated thyrotropin (TSH) and positive anti-thyroperoxidase antibody (TPOAb) versus nonusers/past users. After controlling for confounders, recent marijuana use remained an independent predictor for TSH <5.6 μIU/mL (odds ratio of 0.344 with 95% CI of 0.127-0.928; p = 0.04) but not for negative TPOAb.
Conclusion: Recent marijuana use was not associated with thyroid dysfunction but was significantly associated with lower levels of TSH.
Keywords: TSH; autoimmune thyroiditis; hypothyroidism; marijuana.