Marijuana & the Biological Clock
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Q:  Can early use of drugs, beer, marijuana destroy the biological clock.  Is bipolar the cause, or is it the effect? Thank you

Dear Tracy -- 
Up until recently I think I might have said: "haven't got any evidence to support such a concern". But recently two studies appeared which very strongly suggest marijuana use at a young age (teens) may raise the risk of psychosis, in those who have a genetic risk.
Caspi, Henquet The Caspi study in particular is extremely powerful and is generating a great deal of interest among brain scientists working on the nature of psychosis. Now psychosis is not a "clock" problem, directly (bipolar disorder can cause psychosis and clearly involves the clock, but that's an indirect connection); and the genes studied by Caspi's team are not clock genes. 

So, to be honest, the answer to your question is still "don't know", I think; but these studies really knocked me upside the head: they pretty strongly suggest that there are some kids out there who are creating their own disastrous outcomes by using marijuana. I never used to think that it should so strongly be avoided, at least by some kids, until these studies came out. 

Meanwhile, however, your question is very brief and succinct, but suggests that you have a bigger question, and if you'd like to submit the bigger question, I'd be curious. Perhaps you have been following the recent investigation into the biological clock as the site (or one site, at least) of lithium action? That's huge news -- but since that story broke yesterday, either you're prescient or you're thinking very well. 

Dr. Phelps

Published April, 2006


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