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Allergol Immunopathol (Madr). 2011 Sep-Oct;39(5):271-9. doi: 10.1016/j.aller.2010.09.008. Epub 2011 Jan 26.

Allergic hypersensitivity to cannabis in patients with allergy and illicit drug users.

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Direction of Public Health, Investigation, Development and Innovation, SACYL, Valladolid, Spain.



Cannabis is the illicit drug most widely used by young people in high-income countries. Allergy symptoms have only occasionally been reported as one of the adverse health effects of cannabis use.


To study IgE-mediated response to cannabis in drug users, atopic patients, and healthy controls.


Asthmatic patients sensitised to pollen, and all patients sensitised to tobacco, tomato and latex, considered as cross-reacting allergens, were selected from a data base of 21,582 patients. Drug users attending a drug-rehabilitation clinic were also included. Controls were 200 non-atopic blood donors. Specific IgE determination, prick tests and specific challenge with cannabis extracts were performed in patients and controls.


Overall, 340 patients, mean age 26.9±10.7 years, were included. Males (61.4%) were the most sensitised to cannabis (p<0.001). All cannabis-sensitised patients were alcohol users. Eighteen (72%) of the patients allergic to tomato were sensitised to cannabis, but a positive specific challenge to cannabis was highest in patients sensitised to tobacco (13/21, 61.9%), (p<0.001). Pollen allergy was not a risk factor for cannabis sensitisation. Prick tests and IgE for cannabis had a good sensitivity (92 and 88.1%, respectively) and specificity (87.1 and 96%) for cannabis sensitisation.


Cannabis may be an important allergen in young people. Patients previously sensitised to tobacco or tomato are at risk. Cannabis prick tests and IgE were useful in detecting sensitisation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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