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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.

Author information

1
Direction of Public Health, Investigation, Development and Innovation, SACYL, Valladolid, Spain. aliciaarmentia@gmail.com

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

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.

OBJECTIVES:

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

METHODS:

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.

RESULTS:

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.

CONCLUSIONS:

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.

PMID:
21272987
DOI:
10.1016/j.aller.2010.09.008
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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