Media Ignored Expert's Shocking Findings That Marijuana Helps Prevent Lung Cancer: Now It's Med-School Material
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Tashkin said the New Zealanders employed "statistical sleight of hand." He deemed it "completely implausible that smokers of only 365 joints of marijuana have a risk for developing lung cancer similar to that of smokers of 7,000 tobacco cigarettes... Their small sample size led to vastly inflated estimates... They had said 'it's ideal to do the study in New Zealand because we have a much higher prevalence of marijuana smoking.' But 88 percent of their controls had never smoked marijuana, whereas 36% of our controls (in Los Angeles) had never smoked marijuana. Why did so few of the controls smoke marijuana? Something fishy about that!"
Those are strong words for a UCLA School of Medicine professor.
As to the highly promising implication of his own study -- that something in marijuana stops damaged cells from becoming malignant -- Tashkin noted that an anti-proliferative effect of THC has been observed in cell-culture systems and animal models of brain, breast, prostate, and lung cancer. THC has been shown to promote known apoptosis (damaged cells die instead of reproducing) and to counter angiogenesis (the process by which blood vessels are formed -- a requirement of tumor growth). Other antioxidants in cannabis may also be involved in countering malignancy, Tashkin said.
Much of Tashkin's talk at Asilomar was devoted to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, another condition prevalent among tobacco smokers. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are two forms of COPD, which is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Air pollution and tobacco smoke are known culprits. Inhaled pathogens cause an inflammatory response, resulting in diminished lung function. COPD patients have increasing difficulty clearing the airways as they get older.
Tashkin and colleagues at UCLA conducted a major study in which they measured lung function of various cohorts over eight years and found that tobacco-only smokers had an accelerated rate of decline, but marijuana smokers -- even if they smoked tobacco as well -- experienced the same rate of decline as non-smokers. "The more tobacco smoked, the greater the rate of decline," said Tashkin. "In contrast, no matter how much marijuana was smoked, the rate of decline was similar to normal." Tashkin concluded that his and other studies "do not support the concept that regular smoking of marijuana leads to COPD."
Note: The half-day series of talks, dubbed "MMJ13001B" by UCSF, is newsworthy in itself, as medical schools typically do not include cannabis in the curriculum. ("MMJ13001A" will be offered in San Francisco Oct. 24.)
The media has never taken note of the reality that there is a spectrum of expertise among doctors who approve marijuana use by patients. They have portrayed "potdocs" as quick-buck artists practicing sub-standard medicine, ignoring the serious, research-minded clinicians who understand why compounds in the plant alleviate a wide range of symptoms.
UC San Diego psychiatrist Igor Grant, director of the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research, recently published a paper in the Open Neurology Journal concluding "it is not accurate that cannabis has no medical value, or that information on safety is lacking, and calling for its rescheduling by the federal government.
The CME course was organized by the Canadian Consortium for the Investigation of the Cannabinoids with support from the Society of Cannabis Clinicians, a California-based group. It provides 2.75 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)(tm). Pre-registration is at www.ccic.net/USACME.