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Lung cancer blog: Marijuana Use Does Not Increase Lung Cancer Risk

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Oct 19, 2005

Marijuana Use Does Not Increase Lung Cancer Risk

Marijuana Use Does Not Increase Lung Cancer Risk
Marijuana and tobacco are chemically similar, but this does not mean that use of marijuana results in equally increased risk of development of cancer. In this review that is to be published in the an upcoming issue of the journal Harm Reduction Dr. Robert Melamede of the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs writes about this topic.

Tobacco and marijuana smoke differ in a number of ways, one notable example is that marijuana smoke contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), while tobacco smoke contains nicotine. Nicotine increases the cancer-promoting effects of smoke, while THC reduces cancer promoting effects, Melamede explained.

THC and nicotine act on related cellular pathways, but despite this fact, they bind to different receptors to activate these pathways. Cells in the lungs and respiratory passages are lined with nicotine receptors but these cells don't appear to have THC receptors. This may explain why smoking marijuana has so far not been linked with lung cancer, a major cause of death from cigarette smoking.

Research has also shown that marijuana kills cancer cells and reduces tumor growth. This is, in part, because marijuana reduces the formation of blood vessels that nourish tumors.

This news in no way should be comforting for a marijuana smoker since the effects of marijuana are complex and sometimes contradictory. Many people may use marijuana and tobacco together, and the two drugs could interact in complex ways.

While some governments are reluctant to approve marijuana for medicinal use, the review noted that there's increasing evidence that marijuana can improve the lives of patients with a broad range of health problems, including insomnia, AIDS, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's disease.

Scott      Return to Lung Cancer Blog Main


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Lung cancer
We engage a never-ending daily struggle to understand and defeat the hidden mysteries of cancer. This is a long and laborious fight, but some moments stand out as grim reminders of the severity of the problem and ruthlessness of the enemy.

Lung cancer blog: Marijuana Use Does Not Increase Lung Cancer Risk

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