List of Misconceptions About Illegal Drugs - Cannabis - Marijuana Causes Cancer; E.g., One Joint Equals A Whole Pack of Cigarettes

Marijuana Causes Cancer; E.g., One Joint Equals A Whole Pack of Cigarettes

Many school programs today teach that cannabis users are at a much higher risk of getting lung cancer or other diseases than tobacco cigarette smokers. While unburned cannabis or THC is not a known carcinogen, it is true that cannabis smoke, like any smoke, contains carcinogens. However, the largest study of its kind by the University of California - Los Angeles found that people who smoke marijuana are no more likely to develop lung cancer or head and neck cancers than non-smokers. Some studies have shown that marijuana may actually reduce the risk of some cancers by as much as 61%. Part of this misconception may stem from people who smoke both tobacco and marijuana contracting lung cancer from tobacco use, then blaming it on their cannabis use. Also, many cannabis smokers (generally outside the U.S.) mix tobacco and cannabis together in joints, making it very difficult to disentangle the effects of each. There is also a study by the Institute of Toxicology and Pharmacology showing an anti-cancerous effect from the introduction of cannabinoids to lung cancer cells. A study performed on mice and human lung cancer cells also showed an anti-metastasis effect on the cancerous cells

Related to this is the idea that one joint equals 10, 20, or even more tobacco cigarettes in terms of cancer risk, lung damage, and/or various toxins. This is based on a few studies that used small sample sizes and/or looked at one specific lung area. However, this is highly misleading due to differences in chemical constituents, additives, weight, smoking style (such as breath-holding), smoking frequency, and cumulative quantity. Also, some constituents (such as ammonia and PAHs) are somewhat greater in cannabis smoke, whereas certain nitrosamines are exclusive to tobacco. Smoke from tobacco and cannabis share many of the same carcinogens, however the THC found in cannabis smoke should offer protection against these carcinogens, while the nicotine in tobacco smoke potentially increases the effect of the carcinogens.

In addition, while prolonged heavy use of cannabis may lead to bronchitis and similar respiratory complaints, there is little evidence (aside from a few anecdotes) that cannabis alone can cause emphysema, a degenerative lung disease typically linked to tobacco smoking.

Read more about this topic:  List Of Misconceptions About Illegal Drugs, Cannabis

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