Tobacco smoking has long been established as the primary risk factor of lung cancer. But it appears that the same danger cannot be said for those who smoke marijuana, whether occasionally or habitually.
In a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Association of Cancer Research, a group of researchers reported that regular cannabis smoking has no significant association with lung cancer risk.
Dr. Li Rita Zhang of the University of California, Los Angeles, and colleagues examined the role of cannabis smoking in lung cancer risk using data from six case-control studies in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and New Zealand. All of the studies were part of the International Lung Cancer Consortium (ILCCO), according to The Oncology Report.
The risk of lung cancer was assessed between the frequency, intensity, and duration of use, while adjusting for age, sex, sociodemographic factors and tobacco packyears. In the end, the researchers found that regular pot smokers had no significant increase in lung cancer risk when compared with marijuana smokers who also used tobacco.
“The conventional wisdom is that cannabis smoking is not as dangerous as cigarette smoking,” said pulmonologist Dr. Michael Alberts, chief medical officer of the Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa, who wasn’t part of the study. Still, he cautioned that smoking anything can have some negative effects to the respiratory system.
Dr. Zhang, on the other hand, did not comment on the study but she noted that their findings “cannot preclude the possibility that cannabis may exhibit an association with lung cancer risk at extremely high dosage over long periods of continued exposure.”