A high intelligence level in childhood could make you more at risk of illegal drug taking later in life, a new study suggests.

The research found high IQ scores were associated with increased illegal drug use in adolescence and adulthood.

The research published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health looked at the lifetime drug use, socio economic factors and education of almost 8,000 people.

The IQ scores of participants were measured at five and 10 years of age and evidence of drug use in adolescence and at 30 was also gathered.

It found men who had high IQ scores at five were twice as likely to use amphetamines, ecstasy and other illicit drugs when they were 30.

The British study also reveals women with higher IQ scores were more than twice as likely to have used cannabis and cocaine than their counterparts with lower intelligence levels.

But University of Queensland Associate Professor Jayne Lucke pointed to the study's limitations.

Associate Professor Lucke said there were many factors that influenced a person's decision to try an illegal drug and the study did not take into account whether a person had friends who were drug users, social and family attitudes, and the availability of drugs.

He said the study raises interesting questions about the relationship between IQ and illegal drug taking, but said the main finding was that more research was needed.

"People with high IQs are not necessarily any better at making sensible decisions about their health than the rest of us," he said.

The authors point to previous research that has shown highly intelligent people are drawn to novel and stimulating experiences.