Pubdate: Wed, 13 Nov 2002
Source: Technician, The (NC State University)
Copyright: 2002 The Technician
Note:  also listed as a contact
Author: Patricia Schwarz
Bookmark: (Cannabis)


Please read these two very interesting studies on marijuana and lung cancer 
being neglected (strangely) by the British Lung Foundation:

1. Where are the missing dead pot heads? Why aren't the newspapers filled 
with anecdotal stories about pot heads renouncing the herb as they are 
carted off for lung cancer treatment? This researcher says he can't find 
any association between pot and lung cancer, not even for pot heads who 
also smoke tobacco:

Johns Hopkins researcher says marijuana is unlikely to cause head, neck or 
lung cancer.


2. How could the above study possibly be true? Doesn't it fly in the face 
of simple logic about smoking in general? Here is a piece of stunning 
research about the cancer-inhibitory effects of THC that could explain it. 
Dr. Donald Tashkin is a leading pulmonary specialist who works at UCLA 
Medical School. This is what he found about the way THC acts in lung cells. 
The explanation in plain English is below: complex regulatory role of THC 
in lung cell cancer process --

Everyone knows burning anything produces carcinogens in the tar. It seems 
natural to assume that the presence of carcinogens automatically means cancer.

But cancer is, in reality, a complex process that relies on a chain of 
events. One necessary event in the lung cancer process is for the 
carcinogen to be metabolized by an enzyme -- called the 
carcinogen-metabolizing enzyme -- so that it can get into the cell nucleus 
and interrupt the reproduction of the cell and make it malignant. This 
enzyme attaches to carcinogens to help them cause cancer.

The THC in the marijuana tar appears to produce more of this enzyme, but at 
the same time the THC blocks the activity of this enzyme so that it cannot 
attach to the carcinogens. The more THC in the pot, the more the THC blocks 
this enzyme from being able to work.

So THC interrupts the process by which the carcinogens in the smoke cause 
the cancer. THC blocks the carcinogen-metabolizing enzyme. And that could 
solve the mystery of the missing dead pot heads, the ones they couldn't 
find in the Johns Hopkins study.

Dr. Tashkin and his research team found that THC also inhibits the activity 
of the carcinogen-metabolizing enzyme when it is added to tobacco tar. That 
could explain why tobacco smokers who also smoked pot aren't turning up 
dead or dying in the statistics either.

It irritates me that the British Lung Foundation can make such a big splash 
with their half-baked scare stories about the carcinogens, when the real 
interesting scientific story behind pot smoking and the missing dead pot 
heads is not going to be told.

Is that because so many journalists today have stopped believing in facts, 
and have just accepted the job of printing a quote from one side and a 
quote from the other and calling it a day?

Patricia Schwarz, California Institute of Technology Ph.D. 1998
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MAP posted-by: Terry Liittschwager