Background: Growing evidence shows cannabis use is associated with lower rates of metabolic dysregulation. Despite cannabis impacting each sex differently, few studies have examined the metabolic profile of male and female cannabis users separately. Our aim was to investigate sex differences in the impact of cannabis use on metabolic syndrome in adults with psychotic illness.
Method: Data from 1078 men and 735 women interviewed in the second Australian national survey of psychosis were analyzed using multiple logistic regression to model separately, for each sex, the influence of no, occasional and frequent past-year cannabis use on metabolic syndrome, adjusting for potential covariates including antipsychotic medication, smoking, and physical activity.
Results: The proportion of women and men with metabolic syndrome was 58.1% and 57.6% respectively. Unadjusted analyses showed frequent cannabis use was associated with significantly lower odds of metabolic syndrome for both sexes. In adjusted analyses, the association between metabolic syndrome and frequent cannabis use remained significant for men (AOR = 0.49, 95% CI = 0.31-0.78), but not for women (AOR = 0.68, 95% CI = 0.37-1.24). Frequent cannabis use was associated with lower odds of abdominal obesity, hypertension and elevated triglyceride levels in men only.
Conclusions: The differences we found suggest cannabinoid regulation of energy balance may be sex-dependent and highlight the importance of examining cannabis use in men and women separately. At the same time, the negative association between cannabis and psychosis onset and relapse should not be dismissed.