The epidemiological studies have not been
able to show a conclusive link between the
use of marijuana, even heavy, long-term use
and the development of cancers of the lung,
the aerodigestive system, the head and neck,
and numerous other cancer tissues that have
been searched for. But predominately those
areas, head and neck and lung, are what we
have the most data on.
Very large studies have been conducted. Thousands
of patients, numerous multiple sites, over
several years, in some cases over several
decades. Once a study was recently published
in the Journal of American Medical Association.
Studies out of UCLA, with Dr. Donald Tashkin
who’s a pulmonologist, a lung doctor, and
studies out of Brown University, all of these
have really tried to find a link between the
use, people who use marijuana and people who
aren’t using marijuana, and tried to study
them over a long time and see if there’s an
increased rate of cancer in the groups that
have used marijuana when you control for all
the other variables, and you just can’t find
And what’s really exciting and interesting,
is in some cases, Dr. Tashkin’s studies published,
reported that in some cases it’s a protective
effect. That is, people using marijuana had
lower rates of certain aerodigestive cancers.
That’s very interesting. And that tells us
that there may be some effect of marijuana
against cancer or to help your body fight
Now, that doesn’t mean to say that the smoke
of marijuana is harmless. There is soot and
polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are
these pre, what are called procarcinogens.
But it turns out the effects of those compounds
on your system may be neutralized by some
of the actual compounds in marijuana itself
that may help to reduce the effects, the negative
effects of those compounds. So it kind of
has a built in safety system against developing
those forms of cancer. There’s been some studies
on association with testicular cancer but
those aren’t very large studies. And usually,
it’s very hard to find strong data. You have
to collect large samples over a long period
of time and the lion’s share of that evidence
is showing us that there’s no link to cancers.
And interestingly, in the same studies, if
you look at tobacco users, sometimes they’ll
compare them with tobacco, you get the increased
risk of cancer in a dose-dependent fashion.
The more you use, the higher rates of cancer.
And those were in the same studies that looked
at marijuana. So you can prove smoking and
cancer linked with tobacco smoking. You can’t
prove it with marijuana.
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