How does cannabis affect women's hormonal system and why are they more likely to become regular users?
As society examines the impact of cannabis on humans and animals, an interesting disparity has emerged. Indeed, studies suggest that women are more likely to become regular cannabis users. This is due to a complex network of effects on the female hormonal system that appears to be modulated by cannabinoids.
Cannabis use differs by sex
Meta-study of cannabis research shows women - are more likely to use cannabis regularly, reports Science Daily. The review of the research published in the Frontiers review examined a wide range of animal and human studies of the use of cannabis and the endocannabinoid system in mammals and compared these findings to changes in hormones and hormonal systems of the body and their associated behaviors.
It is clear that the risks and results of cannabis use differ according to the biological sex. Men seem more likely to try cannabis and consume higher doses. Women seem more likely to test and develop a habit of regular consumption.
In fact, men and women differ in prevalence and frequency of cannabis use, habits and reasons for consumption. But also by the vulnerability to develop a disorder related to cannabis use.
Related animal study
The study in rats shows that the female hormone estradiol affects movement control, social behavior and filtering sensory input into the brain. All targets when taking cannabis - by modulating the endocannabinoid system, in turn influence the production of estradiol.
Dr. Liana Fattore, co-author of the study, Senior Researcher at the National Research Council of Italy and President of the Mediterranean Society of Neuroscience:
More specifically, female rats have different levels of endocannabinoids and more sensitive receptors than male rats in key areas of the brain. These bind to these functions, with significant changes along the menstrual cycle. "
Therefore, the interactions between the endocannabinoid system et the brain level of dopamine - the neurotransmitter of "pleasure" and "reward" - are dependent on sex. However, according to Dr. Fattore, the effects varied depending on the cannabinoids studied, the strain, the animals tested and the duration of exposure to hormones.
A different hormonal system
The researchers believe that this is due to a complex network of effects on the hormonal system. This one differs from one sex to the other and seems modulated by the cannabinoids. Testosterone in humans increases risk behavior. While estrogen in women seem to control social behavior and filtering sensory inputs.
These behavioral changes will create, according to individuals, feedback loops that will further modify the level of hormones in the body. But, beyond what cannabis can be directly responsible ... However, human data so far are consistent with the idea that estradiol regulates the female response to cannabinoids.
"The blood levels of the enzymes that break down the cannabinoids fluctuate throughout the human menstrual cycle. And imaging studies show that brain levels of cannabinoid receptors increase with aging in women. This reflects in each case changes in estradiol levels (estradiol) ".
As in animals, men and women have different genetic and hormonal behaviors. In addition, they treat information differently, perceive emotions in different ways and are differently vulnerable to the development of drug dependence.
Dr. Fattore believes that it is essential to deepen our understanding of the interactions between cannabinoids and sex steroids. To assess the impact of increasing cannabis use and tackle the consequences.