to main page
taima news

See also:
See also: news index.
See also: How dangerous is cannabis?
See also: The Cannabis Control Act

Pubdate: 2000.01.12
Source: CRRH mailing list

Science update: Cancer study a fraud?

Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2000 15:36:53 -0400
Subject: science update: cancer study a fraud?

Dear Cures-not-wars,

Hope you had a very Happy New Year's Day. One week into the new Millennium, I am hoping to share with you my enthusiasm over the two most important research articles completed on the subject of the long-term effects of cannabis use since the historic studies in Jamaica, Costa Rica, and Greece came out in the mid 70's. These classic studies were panned by officials because of the relatively low number of smokers included (who were reported to have healthy, productive lives). There were only 30 marijuana smokers and 30 controls in the famous Jamaican study (n = 60) - but it generated an inspiring book GANJA IN JAMAICA.

Now we finally have two studies that address two of the most important slanderous charges hurled at our favorite medicinal herb - that of causing brain damage and being very carcinogenic. This time the Cognition Preservation Data included over 1,318 people over 11.5 years and the Cancer Prevention Data is based on medical records from 65,171 people including 14,128 Current Marijuana Smokers and 12,771 Former Marijuana Smokers from 1979 to a mortality follow-up in 1991.

To read these historic articles, point your web browser to the CANNABIS RESEARCH LIBRARY at Then click on the "Aging" button on the left or you can go directly to <> to download a PDF version of the cognitive decline article and <> to download the "Marijuana Use and Mortality" article from the AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PUBLIC HEALTH.

I worked again on the two most important Tables from the above articles and had to shorten them to their basic facts to prevent them from being scrambled by e-mail. For posters and newsletters perhaps less is better.

"Marijuana Use and Mortality" AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PUBLIC HEALTH article from April 1997: <>

TABLE 2 Relative Risk of Death for Ever Users and Current Users of Marijuana, by Sex and Cause of Death: Kaiser Pemanente Medical Care Program Members (n = 65,171), Oakland and San Francisco, June 1979 through December 1985 - section of table regarding cancer (Neoplasms) as the cause of death:

Ever Users                      Relative Risk of Cancer Death
Full Model                                          0.78

Nonsmokers/ Occasional Drinkers      0.46

Current Users
Full Model                                          0.97

Nonsmokers/ Occasional Drinkers      0.75

Ever Users
Full Model                                          0.82

Nonsmokers/ Occasional Drinkers      0.70

Current Users
Full Model                                           0.86

Nonsmokers/ Occasional Drinkers       0.56

"Cannabis Use And Cognitive Decline In Persons Under 65 Years Of Age" AMERICAN JOURNAL OF EPIDEMIOLOGY, Vol. 149, No.9 pages 794-800, 1999

TABLE 3. Mean change in Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) score between wave 2 (1982) end wave 3 (1993-1996) in men and women, by level of cannabis use, Baltimore Epidemiologic Catchment Area study follow-up

Gender and level                                      Mean score
of cannabis use                        Number      change in MMSE

Nonusers                                251            -1.00

Light users                             104            -1.03

Light users & use of drugs               48            -1.06
Heavy users                              82            -0.84

Heavy users & use of drugs                3            -0.33

Nonusers                                555            -1.46

Light users                             131            -1.04

Light users & use of drugs               83            -1.07
Heavy users                              55            -1.15

Heavy users & use of drugs                8            -0.60

Here the negative numbers represent a loss of mental functioning. It occurs in all age groups as a natural function of aging and exposure to toxic substances - such as excessive alcohol or tobacco. However, we see less cognitive decline among marijuana smokers than nonusers of this controversial herb.

These Tables contain data so powerful - that they can really help turn around the drug war - and move us quickly on the way towards drug peace. Every day now, we loose thousands of battles in the war on drugs as new arrests and convictions for cannabis continue at an unprecedented rate. We should focus on bringing these important new findings to the attention of legislators, judges and juries considering cannabis laws and cases.

I called Stephen Sidney, MD, at the Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, 3505 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94611 on Jan. 4, and he confirmed that they found lower levels of cancer among the marijuana smokers when compared to their control group.

Dr. Sidney is the first author listed in the AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PUBLIC HEALTH article. After acknowledging that they found lower rates of cancer among both "Ever Users" and "Current Users" of marijuana - he said they did not mention it in the text because of the relatively wide 95% Confidence Intervals. He also confirmed that any Relative Risk less than 1.0 means a lowered risk of death compared to the Reference or control group. (Relative Risk values of greater than one would be expected from the false claims that marijuana is carcinogenic.)

Dr. Sydney also clarified my question regarding the lower values among the Nonsmokers (of tobacco)/Occasional Drinkers) group of marijuana smokers. These lower values of Relative Risk were calculated by comparing them to Nonusers/Experimenters who also did not smoke tobacco and did not consume excessive alcohol. This makes these lowered values much more important than if they were compared to the full group of Nonusers/Experimenters.)

Because tobacco is so carcinogenic, any studies attempting to measure the association between marijuana use and cancer must ignore those who smoke both tobacco and marijuana. It is unfortunate that the press has distorted the recent pilot study findings of the Zhang/Tashkin group to state "Smoking marijuana can cause cancer, study finds" as reported on CNN Dec. 17, 1999.

The real story, as uncovered by Chuck Thomas of MPP, is that they again found evidence of the Cancer Prevention Activity of Cannabinoids, as only 2 in the group of 173 head and neck cancer patients had only smoked marijuana - as compared to 5 of the 176 in their control group. This data is limited because of the relatively low number of people in these groups. Here n = 173 + 176 = 349. The Kaiser study is thus over 185 times larger with an n = 65,171.

Another related important article is »Anticancer Activity of Cannabinoids« concerning reduced growth of implanted lung cancer tumors in mice published the JOURNAL OF THE NATIONAL CANCER INSTITUTE, Sept. '75. Here mice with implanted lung cancer tumors lived significantly longer than control animals, as tumor growth was inhibited by THC and other cannabinoids tested.

The two Tables included above bring good news from two outstanding research articles that have the last word in the actual effects of marijuana smoking because they collected data from 514 marijuana smokers in the cognition study and 26,899 marijuana smokers in the largest, most comprehensive study completed on the ultimate long-term effect - mortality - to date.

As with all such studies, there is a degree of uncertainty in their findings - which is expressed as the 95% confidence intervals included in these reports. Although opponents of drug policy reform will argue that they are too large to have much meaning, the observed decreases in Relative Risk associated with cancer deaths are all similar in value, with an increase in protection as they exclude tobacco smokers. This shows consistency in these findings for the 26,899 marijuana smokers included in the Kaiser study.

Another important point is that they stand unchallenged - as no reports have been published which show any increase in the cancer rate among any group of people who have only smoked this medicinal herb. In fact, they have yet to find even one case of lung cancer in anyone who has just smoked cannabis - even though thousands of new cases of lung cancer are reported among nonsmokers of tobacco every year in the U.S.

I am still waiting for requests from interested reformers who want to know more about a subject I have researched rather thoroughly - "The Benzopyrene Hoax" - which is used to support their false claims of carcinogenicity of marijuana.

In the meantime, I will leave you with the pleasant thought that this new research gives new relevance to the following important verses found on the very first page of the HOLY BIBLE.

GENESIS, Chapter 1:

11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.

12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

Now we have the scientific reports to support this religious viewpoint + there are many other articles that describe the medical applications of cannabinoids.

Best Wishes,

Wally Bachman
Best Chemistry Student 1969, SUNY New Paltz
B.S. Cum Laude, Chemistry & Sociology 1970, SUNY New Paltz
Master of Arts, Teaching Sociology 1973, University of Hawaii


See also:
See also: news index.
See also: How dangerous is cannabis?
See also: The Cannabis Control Act

to main page
Back to main page