Friday, May 26, 2006


Now they tell us: pot doesn't really cause cancer!

Pot smokers everywhere hacked a sigh of relief this week when it was reported that marijuana does not - I repeat, DOES NOT cause cancer. Funded by NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) and headed by UCLA senior researcher Donald Taskin, the study observed 2,200 people. "All you can say is we haven't been able to confirm our suspicions that marijuana might be a risk factor for lung, head and neck cancer," Tashkin concluded.

The new findings "were against our expectations," added the pulmonologist who's studied marijuana for 30 years. Even more significantly, he stated that THC (the chemical in marijuana that produces the high) may kill aging cells and keep them from becoming cancerous, inhibiting tumor growth.

reports that "investigators assessed the possible association between cannabis use and the risk of lung cancer in middle-aged adults [ages 18-59] living in Los Angeles. Researchers conducted interviews with 611 subjects with lung cancer and 1,040 controls matched for age, gender and neighborhood. Data was collected on lifetime marijuana use, as well as subjects' use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, diet, occupation, and family history of cancer. Investigators used a logistical regression model to estimate the effect of cannabis smoking on lung cancer risk, adjusting for age, gender, ethnicity, education, and cumulative tobacco smoking and alcohol use."

"'We did not observe a positive association of marijuana use - even heavy long-term use - with lung cancer, controlling for tobacco smoking and other potential cofounders,' investigators concluded. Their data further revealed that one subset of moderate lifetime users (10-30 "joint years") actually had an inverse association between cannabis use and lung cancer. The study did report a 20-fold increased risk in heavy tobacco smokers."

Jon Gettman's "Tar Baby" (High Times' Grow America, #5) posed the question, "Does pot cause cancer?" At the time - two years ago - Tashkin believed, according to Gettman, "that respiratory symptons in many heavy cannabis smokers are similar to those of tobacco users who smoke half a pack a day." However, he'd reached no conclusions about cancer until now, which confirms Mitch Earleywine's assessment in Understanding Marjiuana: "Currently, no data reveal definitive increases in rates of lung cancer among people who smoke marijuana but not tobacco."

Even if pot doesn't cause cancer (we knew that all along), puffers should attempt to reduce the harm associated with inhaling hot smoke and tars into their bodies. Gettman recommends the followng "strategies":

• Use higher-potency canabis and smoke it less often.
• Minimize puff volume - inhale less smoke and exhale it sooner.
• Increase filtration of tars and toxic gases in cannabis smoke.
• Vaporize THC without burning the vegetable matter it's contained in.
• Get regular exercise to strengthen your lungs.

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