Worth repeating: marijuana decreases risk of lung cancer

As more and more Americans consider the pros and cons of cannabis legalization, many points are worth repeating, and chief among them: cannabis actually decreases the risk of lung cancer.

It’s a counter-intuitive notion, since tobacco smoking causes cancer, marijuana smoking must as well. But as the LA Weekly highlights Monday, it’s just not true. Decades of pulmonary research is in: pot decreases the risk of lung cancer and does not cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

LA Weekly managed to quote one of the nation’s leading pulmonologists, Dr. Donald Tashkin. The professor emeritus of medicine at UCLA once sought to prove pot causes lung cancer, but the evidence forced him to conclude the opposite.

Cannabis tar has more carcinogens than tobacco, but, Tashkin states, “we failed to find any positive association [with cancer].” Instead, “the association would be negative, between lung cancer and the use of marijuana. The likelihood is, that despite the fact that marijuana smoke contains carcinogens, we don’t see the same heightened risks of cancers that we see in tobacco.”

For one, THC, CBD and other cannabinoids have been shown in cell and animal studies to kill cancer.

Tashkin also states that smoking marijuana does not cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) perhaps because “marijuana is a potent anti-inflammatory and suppressive,” he says.

No lung doctor is about to recommend smoking anything. But the science is in. Pot is safer than cigarettes — so why are 750,000 Americans getting arrested for it?

Originally published on SFGate.

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