New US Study Affirms Smoked Marijuana Protects Against Cancer.
In 1974, University of Virginia researchers discovered something very unlikely. Cannabis, banned in the United States in 1937, and further demonized by the Nixon administration in 1968, had an unexpected property: it inhibited the growth of lung cancer cells. But, even more surprising was the response from the government: an apparent complete absence, even discouragement of any follow-up studies. The results were briefly mentioned in news reports at the time, but with the end of the Carter administration, cannabis became a step-child as far as scientific research was concerned.
Like any unloved step-child cannabis was treated with different rules, and made a scape-goat for social ills.
There was still research being done on cannabis, but funding was only available if the intent was to prove harm. In fact, it wasn't until the pioneering work done by Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, in Israel, and Dr. Manuel Guzman in Spain, that this startling anti-cancer property of cannabis sativa became public again.
What is even more troubling is that the United States Government actually did a secret follow up-study on the Virginia findings, in the mid '90's. When it only served to confirm the results of the 1974 research, and showed that THC (one of the main active ingredient in cannabis – and the one the government loves to hate), when administered to mice, protected them against malignancy, true to form, our government attempted to bury the results. Fortunately, a draft copy of the study was leaked to the journal, AIDS Treatment News, and the media covered the story. An excellent article by Paul Armentano, Deputy Director of NORML, covers this part of our shameful history.
By 2003, the cat was pretty much out of the bag, and a quick search onPubMed brings up at least 262 results when you put in "cannabis and cancer" in the search string. But, as late as this year, the US Government was still funding research meant to prove that cannabis causes cancer. The extremely flawed survey which attempted to link cannabis smoking with testicular cancerfalls into this category. In fact, in 2008, two years after Dr. Donald Tashkin research which showed that not only does cannabis not cause lung cancer, but appears to protect against it, three respected doctors from the cannabis research group felt compelled to write a letter to the European Respiratory Journal debunking a New Zealand study which claimed that smoking cannabis led to an increased risk of lung cancer.
Now, this month in Cancer Prevention Research Journal one can find a studydemonstrating that chronic, long term of cannabis actually reduces the incidence of head and neck cancer. Specifically:
"10 to 20 years of marijuana use was associated with a significantly reduced risk of HNSCC" [head and neck squamous cell carcinoma].
Knowing this, are you angry? You should be. It's a safe bet to say you know someone who has cancer. Or died of it.
It's also a safe bet that you didn't hear any coverage of this story in the mainstream media.
For my money, it's way past time for the politics of prohibtion to be thrown aside, and hard science applied to what promises to be an extraordinary new era in the treatment and cure of cancer.
And... we need all the voices we can get saying: That time is now!
Requests for reprints of the study cited above can be made here:Karl T. Kelsey, Department of Community Health, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Division of Biology and Medicine, Brown University, Providence, RI. Phone: 401-863-6420; Fax: 401-863-9008; E-mail:Karl_Kelsey@brown.edu.