Smoking Marijuana Does Not Cause Lung Cancer
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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 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, said Tashkin.
Much of Tashkin’s talk 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.”
Breathe easier, everybody.