Why Cannabis Smoke Won’t Give you Cancer
Did you know that there are roughly the same amount of carcinogens in cannabis smoke than in cigarette smoke? It’s true, in fact, depending on how much leafy substance are on the bud, there can even be more carcinogens than your average cigarette.
Now, I know…some of you are calling bullshit! However, the truth is, “smoke” is carcinogenic…whether it’s from cannabis or tobacco.
So then why aren’t anyone dying from cancer who smokes marijuana if the carcinogenic levels are similar in the smoke?
Today, I will tell you why.
Understanding ‘what’ in cigarette smoke can give you cancer
The first thing you have to understand are the fundamental differences between cannabis smoke and cigarette smoke. The combustion process of plant matter produces carcinogens. However, cigarette smoke have other elements within it that aren’t present in cannabis smoke.
The first of these are nicotine. In a study published in The National Institute of Health compared the carcinogenic effects of both cannabis and cigarette smoke.
Here’s an excerpt from the study that might shed some light on things; [Don’t worry I’ll explain this in laymen terms at the end]
Smoke from tobacco and cannabis contains many of the same carcinogens and tumor promoters [20,21]. However, cannabis and tobacco have additional pharmacological activities, both receptor-dependent and independent, that result in different biological endpoints. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons found in smoke are pro-carcinogens that are converted to carcinogens by the enzymatic activity of the cytochrome P4501A1 oxidase protein (CYP1A1 gene product). Benzo [a] pyrene is converted to its carcinogenic metabolite diol epoxide, which binds to specific hyper-mutable nucleotide sequences in the K-ras oncogene and p53 tumor suppressor . Recent work by Roth et al. demonstrates that THC treatment of murine hepatoma cells caused a dose dependent increase in CYP1A1 gene transcription, while at the same time directly inhibiting the enzymatic activity of the gene product . Thus, despite potentially higher levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons found in cannabis smoke compared to tobacco smoke (dependent on what part of the plant is smoked), the THC present in cannabis smoke should exert a protective effect against pro-carcinogens that require activation. In contrast, nicotine activates some CYP1A1 activities, thus potentially increasing the carcinogenic effects of tobacco smoke .
Essentially, this paragraph explains how the carcinogens within smoke gets converted and binds to specific genes and tumor suppressors. They also explain how THC inhibits some of the enzyme activity while nicotine activates some of the activity.
This could very well be the reason why cannabis users don’t get lung cancer if they only smoke marijuana. However, there are other reasons why people get cancer from nicotine.
Did you know that each cigarette you smoke contain trace elements of lead-210 and polonium-210, which are both radioactive particles. These particles are commonly found in commercial fertilizers and pesticides used on tobacco crops.
Unlike the cannabis industry, the tobacco industry doesn’t implement flushing techniques and use accelerants within their “curing” process to increase combustion. The radioactive particles stay on the tobacco and are then sold to consumers.
Smokers inhale trace amounts of these radioactive particles, which accumulate over time. This could very well be another reason as to why we’re seeing 7.1 million deaths each year directly linked to tobacco consumption.
Within the cannabis industry, the purity of the product is much more scrutinized than in the tobacco industry. Seeing that some people will use cannabis for medical purposes, the industry is forced to ensure that there are no trace amount of pesticides or fertilizers on the product. This is why flushing happens.
If pesticides are found on crops, the entire crop could be destroyed depending on the state. Nonetheless, in general cannabis is more pesticide free than tobacco [unless you’re buying dirt weed off the street…then who knows!]
The final reason why cannabis consumers don’t get cancer from smoking weed
Finally, we have to look at the rate of the consumption between a cannabis user and a tobacco smoker. The average tobacco smoker goes through a pack of cigarettes a day. The average cigarette weighs about .9 grams.
This means that every week the average tobacco smoker smokes roughly 126 grams of tobacco. On the other hand, the average cannabis smoker uses anywhere between 4-8 grams of weed per week. The difference is shocking.
It’s also because higher potency strains means that a cannabis smoker can consume less and still obtain the same desired effect.
While it’s true that cannabis smokers tend to hold in the smoke a bit longer than tobacco smokers, the sheer volume of smoke entering into the lungs of a smoker makes those few extra seconds irrelevant. It’s another reason why tobacco smokers tend to get cancer and cannabis smokers don’t.
To each his own
In the end, if you’re a smoker…it’s your choice. However, being informed about what you’re putting into your body is always good. If you’re smoking cannabis only, the odds of you getting lung cancer is almost non-existent. Hopefully the information above showed you why.