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Study: Smoking Marijuana Does Not Raise Lung Cancer Risk

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Updated May 24, 2006

Question: Study: Smoking Marijuana Does Not Raise Lung Cancer Risk
I heard that smoking marijuana will not cause lung cancer. Is this true? Does smoking marijuana increase my risk for lung cancer?
Answer: According to a recent study by the University of California Los Angeles, there is no increased lung cancer risk in smoking marijuana.

The study presented at the annual American Thoracic Society meeting this week in San Diego, studied the lives of those under 60, since that age group is most to have been exposed to the heaviest amounts of marijuana use.

The "baby boomer" group was comprised of 611 lung cancer patients, 601 head and neck cancer patients and 1040 people who did not have cancer. The study found no increased risk of lung and head and neck cancer. However, it did find a significant increased risk factor in those who smoked two or more packs of cigarettes a day.

The study also suggests that marijuana contains more than 50% more of the chemicals related to lung cancer than cigarettes, its a chemical inside marijuana called THC that may prevent cancer from developing.

THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, may have the ability to kill damaged cells before they become cancerous.

Is this a green light to smoke marijuana?

Absolutely not. Marijuana still contains chemicals that are harmful to the health. When marijuana is inhaled, it is usually held in for times longer than cigarette smoke, thus allowing tar and other chemicals to be absorbed into the lungs.

Marijuana users face the same respiratory problems as regular smokers, such as bronchitis, wheezing, and general difficulty in breathing.

Plus, the resecrchers of the study do say that a lung cancer risk associated wsith smoking marijuana may be revealed as the baby boomers age.

Last but not least, remember that marijuana is illegal in the U.S. and in most countries worldwide.

References: Seattle Pi: "Pot's low cancer risk a surprise finding"
Columbia University, Health Services at Columbia

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