New Study Finds No Link between Marijuana Smoke and Lung Cancer

Press Release May 23, 2006
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Tony Newman at (646) 335-5384 or Tommy McDonald at (646) 335-2242

A study unveiled this week found no link between smoking marijuana and lung cancer. The report, presented at the American Thoracic Society International Conference in San Diego, found that people who smoke marijuana did not appear to have an increased risk of lung cancer – even among heavy marijuana smokers. Tobacco smokers in the study however, had much higher cancer rates.

Prior to the study’s release, the prevailing assumption was that people who smoked marijuana would face the same lung damage and cancer risks as tobacco smokers, but to the surprise of even the researchers, the findings indicated no increased risk of lung cancer. Marijuana smoking also did not appear to increase the risk of head and neck cancers, the study showed.

The findings suggest that the active chemical compounds in marijuana – particularly tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – may indeed counteract the cancer-causing properties associated with inhaling smoke into the lungs. Researchers speculated that THC causes cells to die before becoming cancerous.

“This study refutes yet another drug war fallacy: that marijuana smoke causes cancer. One by one, the myths and outright lies about marijuana are falling by the wayside due to sound science devoid of politics,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “We can now clearly see that the most negative consequences of marijuana revolve around the fact that it is illegal.”

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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