It’s no secret that smoking cigarettes is the leading cause of lung cancer. But what about smoking cannabis?
Well, not all smoke is created equal. A study from researchers at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine showed that “heavy cannabis smoking” did not increase cancer risk.
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The study compared 611 lung cancer patients and 601 patients with cancers of the head and neck (throat, brain, etc) with 1040 people without cancer. After surveying, the heaviest cannabis users had smoked more than 22,000 joints. The heaviest cigarette smoker smoked about two packs a day.
The results: the heaviest cigarette smokers were found to have a 20-fold increase in developing lung cancer, while there was no increased or elevated risk found for the heaviest cannabis smokers.
Even more notable, the research showed that people who smoked more cannabis were not at a greater risk to people who smoked less cannabis and those who abstained.
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So there’s no strong connection that links smoking weed to developing lung cancer, but can smoking weed fight lung cancer?
Research is positive.
A study published by German researchers revealed that cannabinoids (CBDs) (the non-psychoactive relative of THC), make cancer cells more vulnerable to being broken down by cells designed to kill tumors. The results showed that cannabinoids increased the expression of the molecule ICAM-1, which made the cancerous tumors “adhere to, and be broken down by LAK cells.” LAK cells (lymphokine-activated killer cells) are white blood cells that kill tumor cells. Researchers cited that these findings “provide proof for a novel antitumorigenic mechanism of cannabinoids.”
Similarly, the study showed that the same activation of the ICAM-1 and LAK relationship was seen when THC was used instead of cannabinoids.