The combustion of plant materials is known to produce cancer-causing chemicals, but why has smoking cannabis has never caused lung cancer?
It’s 2016 and considered common knowledge that tobacco smoke contains cancerous chemicals and can cause serious health implications. But what about marijuana?
The premise seems very similar; the burning of plant material and inhaling the smoke produced. Shouldn’t marijuana cause cancer just as easily? Especially because the analysis of a common joint confirmed that is has 4 times more cancer causing material than a single cigarette. I know it sounds hard to believe, but it’s true! If cannabis contains cancer-causing chemicals but doesn’t cause cancer, there must be an explanation.
The first explanation is the somewhat obvious one. The amount of tobacco smoke that smokers inhale is much higher than the average amount of marijuana in the lungs of the typical cannabis enthusiast. You’ve probably heard the term “pack a day smoker” for people addicted to nicotine, but it is almost unheard of to hear of people smoking 20 joints a day. To simplify this explanation, if you are inhaling hundreds of cancer-causing cigarettes a month, your chances of getting lung cancer is significantly higher than someone having the occasional or nightly joint. Hal Morgenstern is an epidemiologist at the University of Michigan and said this in a recent study about marijuana vs tobacco,
“When you think about people smoking 20-40 cigarettes a day for 40 years, they’re smoking hundreds of thousands of cigarettes. The exposure that marijuana users get… is more than a magnitude of difference less.”
Other studies in the connections between marijuana and lung cancer have investigated an often overlooked difference between marijuana and tobacco. Special compounds in marijuana have been shown to have anti-cancer effects.This may be the reason why marijuana users are unlikely to develop lung cancer, says Donald P. Tashkin, a lung specialist from the University of California. “
The THC in marijuana has well-defined anti-tumoral effects that have been shown to inhibit the growth of a variety of cancers in animal models and tissue culture systems, thus counteracting the potentially tumorigenic effects of the procarcinogens in marijuana smoke.”
In fact, one of Dr. Tashkin’s original 2006 studies found that while heavy tobacco smokers experienced up to a 20-fold increase in lung cancer risk, the most frequent users of cannabis were no more likely to develop lung cancer than the average person. So with everything in today’s world that can cause cancer, it’s a big relief that marijuana isn’t among them.
What are your thoughts on the conclusions from these studies? Let us know on one of our social media accounts or in the comments section below. We’d love to hear what you have to say!