Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Smoking marihuana gives you lung cancer, right?

Prohibitionists and credulous media are always spruiking studies that show smoking cannabis is carcinogenic. These studies usually analyse the smoke and list many of its components as carcinogenic, concluding along the lines that cannabis is "40 times more carcinogenic than tobacco" etc.

These are the type of studies preferred by prohibitionist politicians, and the research cohort knows very well this type of research is more likely to get funded and create headlines.

Such research adopts a reductive approach, and the conclusions seem intuitively to make sense, although they tend to ignore that cannabis smokers typically consume a lot less smoke than the typical tobacco smoker (who is driven by a strong physical addiction). They also fail to take into account the possible interactions between the various components of cannabis smoke in the gestalt.

Population studies, on the other hand, consistently fail to find higher lung-cancer rates among long-term smokers. The NORML site in the US runs a series on their blog under the banner "If Cannabis didn't [X] you would have read about it, right?" It lists the good news stories about cannabis that the major media consistently ignore.

It links to this story about research into cancer risk and this one about the effects on lung capacity. Both studies, along with others, showed that cannabis had either zero effect or a positive effect such as a 48% reduced risk of head and neck cancers among moderate cannabis smokers. Funny, we don't see these stories in Australian newspapers, either.

I'm not saying that cannabis is risk-free -- commonsense says that dragging smoke into your lungs can't be a good thing -- but population studies consistently fail to find the horror results the reefer madness industry constantly predicts. Let's have the truth, please.

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