Marijuana Smoking May Cause Head and Neck Cancer
WebMD News Archive
The study also showed that smoking cigarettes increased a person's risk of
head and neck cancer. Additionally, alcohol was found to be a risk factor, but
it was not as strong as either the genetic risk or cigarette smoking.
However, since the study involved a relatively small number of people, the
researchers may not have had enough information on alcohol. David Arnold, MD,
from the University of Miami's Sylvester School of Medicine, tells WebMD that
he and his colleagues have found a significant risk of cancer development if
alcohol is also used with marijuana smoking. "Nobody knows why that is.
People talk about the alcohol making the cells more [receptive] to the
[cancer-causing agent in marijuana] so that it can actually get into the
genetic level," he explains. Arnold is a professor of otolaryngology, in
the division of head and neck surgery at the University of Miami, Sylvester
Comprehensive Cancer Center.
All in all, Zhang, Arnold, and Reggio agree that this is sobering news for
people who smoked pot in the past and those who are smoking it now. They should
be forthcoming with their doctors about their recreational drug use. "If
they have ever used marijuana, they should see their dentists twice a year to
be checked for precancerous lesions," Zhang says. "The message is:
Anything you smoke is bad."
- A new study has linked past marijuana smoking with an increased risk of
cancers of the head and neck.
- More tar is found in marijuana than in cigarettes, so marijuana smokers
have more exposure to cancer-causing agents.
- For those who have ever smoked marijuana, a dental visit twice a year can
catch precancerous lesions.