Marijuana Reports Need Unbiased Eye

Marijuana Reports Need Unbiased Eye
Posted by FoM on February 05, 2000 at 16:55:55 PT
By Dr. Bob Melamede
Source: MapInc.
It is not in the best interests of a democratic society to misinform the public. Facts should be at the heart of sound decision making. Much of the well-intentioned rhetoric aimed at marijuana ignores this fact. Unfortunately, the editorial on neck cancer and marijuana use falls into this category.
Certainly, as with cigarettes, marijuana smokers are subjecting their lungs to an array of potentially harmful chemicals. Respiratory impairment caused by marijuana smoking is well documented. However, aside from the fact that almost no marijuana smoker smokes anywhere near the amount of material as is consumed by the typical nicotine addict, the biological consequences of the similar chemicals in the two formats might not be the same. While only a fool would deny the multitudinous negative health consequences of cigarette smoking, similar conclusions are not as clear when it comes to marijuana use. The pharmacological potential for cannabis based medicines seems to grow every day. The scientific literature documents: pain relieving properties, neuro-protective, anti-cancer, anti-stress, anti-nausea, anti-autoimmune, anti-glaucoma, anti-epileptic and anti-spastic activities for marijuana.These benefical properties are the basis for the ever growing demands for legalizing medical marijuana.The positive qualities of this illegal drug are not shared by legal tobacco products.If one examines the scientific paper on which your editorial is based (Zhang et al, Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarker & Prevention, Dec 1999) two facts stand out. Of the 173 squamous cell neck patients, only two had not also smoked cigarettes. If we spent more money on science education and less on the drug war, most high school students would know that this is too small of a sample to use as a basis of an editorial against marijuana use. If, however, one choose to consider this number as valid, one would conclude from looking at the data that 8.2% of non-cigarette smoking, non-pot smoking controls got cancer while only 7.1% of pot smokers that did not smoke tobacco got cancer.A valid conclusion that may be drawn from the data in the study is that cigarette smoking promotes squamous cell neck cancer and that the chance of getting the disease increases if marijuana is also smoked. However, if anything, marijuana smoking alone seems to reduce the odds of getting it.The Burlington Free Press would do a great service to the community if the issues of medical, recreational and industrial marijuana were examined in depth with an unbiased eye. It makes no sense to deprive sick people of relief, to criminalize our citizens (especially our kids) and to deprive farmers of a valuable crop. Bob Melamede, Ph.D. Assistant ProfessorDept.of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics Stafford Hall Room 226 University of Vermont Burlington, VT 05405 802 656-8501 rmelamed Published: February 3, 2000News Article Courtesy Of MapInc. News Medical Marijuana Archives:
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Comment #3 posted by Rambler on June 03, 2002 at 18:35:24 PT
I'm a bit confused as to exactly what you are trying to say.
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Comment #2 posted by korigordon on June 03, 2002 at 17:45:52 PT:
...more hot air? part II
Marijuana Use is not Associated With Head, Neck or Lung Cancer in Adults Younger Than 55 Years: Results of a Case Cohort Study Cancer Risk and Preventive Health for Marijuana Users
National Institute on Drug Abuse, 
R01 DA08199 (1994 - 1999)Daniel E. Ford, M.D., M.P.H.
H.T. Vu, C. Hauer, K.L. Helzlsouer, J.C. Anthony
Johns Hopkins University School of MedicineMarijuana smoke contains carcinogens. Several small case series and one potentially flawed small case-control study have provided evidence that marijuana is associated with head and neck cancer. We conducted a large case-control study to address this issue. We recruited 164 participants with consecutive incident cases of head, neck, or lung cancer (adults younger than 55 years) in the Baltimore region from four hospitals between 1994 and 1999. 
Also recruited as controls were 526 individuals (younger than 55 years) from the Baltimore Epidemiologic Catchment Area study based on a random household sample. Cases and controls completed identical assessments of exposures via self-report, direct computer entry. Lifetime and current uses of marijuana, tobacco, and alcohol were assessed with detailed questions of use by 5- to 10-year intervals of their lives, by weekend and weekday consumption, and 
by mode of administration of the substance. Control patients were younger (44 vs. 49 years, p 
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Comment #1 posted by korigordon on June 03, 2002 at 17:42:55 PT:
marijuana causing cancer--just more hot air?
Proceedings of the 
American Association for Cancer Research 
92nd Annual Meeting of the AACR (March 2001) 42 887
New Orleans, LA (USA) 
Marijuana use is not associated with the risk of oral squamous cell carcinoma: 
Results from a population-based study* 
Karin Ann Rosenblatt, David R. Doody, E. Dawn Fitzgibbons, 
Janet R. Daling, & Stephen M. Schwartz Researchers found that smoking marijuana does not appear to increase risks of developing oral squamous cell cancers. Karin Rosenblatt, associate professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said the study was undertaken 
to see whether data she and colleagues collected while she was working in Washington state could confirm previous studies showing a link between marijuana and oral cancer.   
  One hospital-based study with blood donor controls found a 2.6-fold increased risk of squamous cell head and neck cancer associated with prior marijuana use 
(Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention 1999). But no association was found in a population-based case-control study of oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) in western Washington state done by investigators from the Fred 
Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle. A total of 407 incident cases of OSCC diagnosed between 1988 and 1995 among persons 18 to 65 years old were ascertained from the Cancer Surveillance System of Western Washington. 
More than 600 matched controls were identified from the general population by random digit dialing. Data on marijuana use and established OSCC risk factors, such as cigarette smoking and alcohol use, were collected through 
structured in-person interviews. 
  Dr. Karin A. Rosenblatt (PhD) said controls and OSCC cases reported nearly identical rates of having smoked marijuana (about 25% for each). There was no association with marijuana use after adjustment for sex, education, year of birth, average drinks per week, and pack-years of cigarette smoking. No increased risk was observed with increasing years of use, number of lifetime 
uses, number of times marijuana was used per week, years since first use, or years since last use, she reported. "Our study included about three times 
the number of cases and controls of the previous study and we got our controls from random digit dialing, which is the preferred population-based method. When our patients answered affirmatively to marijuana use, we asked more 
detailed questions," she said. 
*Marijuana link to oral cancers among 
findings new studies refute 
by Caroline Helwick 
The Medical Post 
Vol.37 [17] May 1, 2001 
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