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?
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 http://www.druglibrary.org/crl/
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: <http://www.druglibrary.org/crl/aging/sidney-01.pdf>
CANCER PREVENTION DATA
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
Full Model 0.97
Nonsmokers/ Occasional Drinkers 0.75
Full Model 0.82
Nonsmokers/ Occasional Drinkers 0.70
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
COGNITION PRESERVATION DATA
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
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 =
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
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
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