Background: A small number of studies have shown that the use of cannabis increases the risk of bronchial asthma. There is, however, a paucity of longitudinal studies which are able to control for known risk factors of bronchial asthma.
Methods: Survey data from a population-based longitudinal study encompassing 2602 young adults followed for 13 years were coupled with individual prescription data on asthma medication (β2-adrenergic receptor agonists and glucocorticoids for inhalation) from the Norwegian national prescription database, which covers the entire Norwegian population. Current cannabis use, gender, age, years of education, body mass index (BMI; kg/m2) and current smoking were measured.
Results: Prescription of asthma medication was associated with female gender, self-reported earlier asthma and allergies, daily tobacco smoking and current cannabis use. In a model adjusting for gender, age, years of education, BMI, earlier self-reported asthma and allergies and current tobacco smoking the odds ratio for a current cannabis user to fill prescriptions for asthma medication was 1.71 (95% CI: 1.06-2.77; p = 0.028).
Conclusions: This suggests that cannabis is a risk factor for bronchial asthma or use of asthma medication even when known risk factors are taken into consideration. Intake of cannabis through smoking should be avoided in persons at risk.
Keywords: Adolescent; Asthma medication; Cannabis; Longitudinal; Smoking.