Marijuana/lung cancer: New reporting on potential risks/benefits of cannabis

Posted June 25th, 2018 by

Medical marijuana and cannabidiol (CBD) are getting a lot of media coverage — so what’s the latest, as it relates to lung cancer?

See two recent high-profile articles that weigh the possible risks and benefits of cannabis for cancer and respiratory disease. And add your perspective.

(Psst, checkout past PatientsLikeMe write-ups on medical marijuana and CBD for some background.)

Risk factor or treatment?

Earlier this year, U.S. News & World Report published an article called “Is Marijuana a Risk Factor or a Treatment Option for Lung Cancer?”

Some key points?

  • Marijuana smoke has many of the same toxins as cigarette smoke, so it could harm the lungs. But the doctors and researchers behind a 2017 report say they have not found conclusive evidence showing that smoking cannabis causes lung cancer (some doctors note that it’s difficult to study because many who’ve smoked marijuana have also smoked tobacco, and there are fewer people who are heavy or habitual cannabis users).
  • The 2017 report did show a “slightly higher chance of having adenocarcinoma if you were a habitual [marijuana] smoker than if you were not or a never-user,” but the evidence was still “weak” and not statistically significant, according to doctors involved in the report.
  • Some research (including this 2018 study in the European Journal of Internal Medicine) has shown that cannabis can have a positive effect on symptoms many people undergoing cancer treatment experience, including pain, nausea, sleep problems and decreased appetite. There’s relatively little research in the U.S. on the effects of medical cannabis because it’s still illegal at the federal level and hard to obtain for studies, even in states with medical marijuana laws and CBD laws.
  • The American Cancer Society reminds people that “relying on marijuana alone as treatment while avoiding or delaying conventional medical care for cancer may have serious health consequences.

Another closeup on cannabis

The New York Times also did a deep dive on medical marijuana risks vs. benefits this spring with their article called “It’s Time for a New Discussion of Marijuana’s Risks.”

What are some takeaways related to lung health?

  • Citing a 2005 study, The Times says, “No association was found between smoking marijuana and lung cancer.”
  • Although lung function (in the general population) may actually improve in the short term after smoking cannabis, a long-term look shows that chronic marijuana smoking may harm lung function, research shows.
  • Although marijuana may not have a strong link to cancer, check out the full article for other considerations, such as some increased risks when it comes to certain mental health conditions, short-term memory loss and impaired driving.

Join PatientsLikeMe or sign in to see what members say

Some PatientsLikeMe members with lung cancer have included cannabis and cannabidiol/CBD on their profile as treatments they’ve tried. Logged-in members can see what others have said in the forum about:

Anything to add based on your own experiences? Add a comment below or join the conversation on this topic with others living with lung cancer.

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2 Comments

  1. If one has lung or any cancer one can choose what they want to take to make themselves feel better. It’s like having a glass of brandy. Who would deny a person that. This research is not in anyone’s best interests. I have complete distain for any person who would deny medical marijuana. SHAME on them.

  2. ok I have been smoking marijuana for since 2004, 2 to 3 grams a day for my pain. I recently did a lung study showed i had a tiny spot on one of them, but i also have been exposed to asbestus working in the railroad industry. So being a so called chronic smoker and I don’t see myself quitting anytime soon, I do however now have a medical card so i don’t have to get it on the street no-more. I’m up for testing more if your doing a study and are paying for the tests.

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