“We now have convincing scientific evidence that daily marijuana use can drive tumor growth.”
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive compound in cannabis, doesn’t just get you high. In a worrying new study, scientists lay out the evidence for a potentially deadly affect of THC on the body — accelerating the growth of a common cancer.
“We now have convincing scientific evidence that daily marijuana use can drive tumor growth in HPV-related head and neck cancer,” Joseph Califano, researcher at the University of California, San Diego and study co-author, said in a statement.
Past studies suggesting THC and other cannabinoids have cancer-fighting effects often used levels of THC higher than those found with recreational use. But doses used recreationally clearly activate a cancer-causing pathway, Califano says.
“Marijuana and other cannabis products are often considered benign, but it is important to note that all drugs that have benefits can also have drawbacks. This is a cautionary tale.”
The startling findings were published this week in the journal Clinical Cancer Research.
The THC effect
To make the connection, the research team analyzed how daily marijuana use influenced the growth of cancer cells in a human papilloma virus-related head and neck cancer called HPV-positive head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. This kind of cancer (both HPV-related and not) is the sixth most common cancer worldwide.
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