Dr. Donald P. Tashkin isn’t a household name, even for cannabis smokers. But he should be. TAshkin’s studies on cannabis use have shown time and time again that cannabis use is not associated with increased lung cancer incidences or risk.
Tashkin’s work is the focus of an article in this month’s Annals of the American Thoracic Society, highlighting the doctor’s work with the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles.
While smoking cannabis does cause minor injury to the large airways, the damage is microscopic and similar to that of chronic bronchitis. Like chronic bronchitis, the damage goes away once the irritation is gone. In short: if you stop smoking ganja, your lungs will heal.
From the Annals of the American Thoracic Society preview of the article: “He also found that the evidence does not indicate that habitual use of marijuana leads to significant abnormalities in lung function when assessed either cross-sectionally or longitudinally, except for possible increases in lung volumes and modest increases in airway resistance of unclear clinical significance.”
In summary, Tashkin found no link between marijuana use and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or lower respiratory tract infections. Most importantly, he found that there isn’t a link between puffing spliffs and lung cancer.
“Findings from a limited number of well-designed epidemiological studies do not suggest an increased risk for the development of either lung or upper airway cancer from light or moderate use, although evidence is mixed concerning possible carcinogenic risks of heavy, long-term use,” Tashkin writes. “In summary, the accumulated weight of evidence implies far lower risks for pulmonary complications of even regular heavy use of marijuana compared to the grave pulmonary consequences of tobacco.”
This is the second lung cancer-related study to come out in as many months. Back in May, we told you about a report in the American Association of Cancer Research that compared occasional marijuana users to heavy marijuana users and tobacco users. The results? Marijuana users don’t have an increased risk compared to both tobacco smokers (duh) and to non-smokers.