How marijuana can block cigarettes’ cancer risk

In Research Updates and News, Top Stories by David Silverberg

Chemicals in marijuana block activity of an enzyme linked with cancer caused by cigarette use, a new study revealed.

Published recently in the national science journal J-STAGE, the study’s conclusion gave another bow in marijuana’s medical quiver, this time highlighting how cigarette smokers turning to marijuana could help protect themselves against lung cancer.

The enzyme in marijuana’s crosshairs is CYP1A1, produced in large quantities following exposure to tobacco smoke.

Remarking on the CBD cannabinoid found in marijuana, the researchers concluded:

Accordingly, CBD and its related compounds, which are potent inhibitors of CYP1A1 activity, would be useful as a lead compound in anticancer chemotherapy.

Marijuana’s link to lung cancer got media attention earlier this month: Relatively heavy smoking of marijuana may as much as double the risk of someone contracting lung cancer, suggested a new, Canadian-led study.

The picture gets even muddier due to a conflicting report out of UCLA, where reserachers found that smoking marijuana in low or medium quantities is unlikely to cause lung cancer. This means that medical cannabis smoking is probably considerably safer than puffing away at tobacco.

Image courtesy Flickr user Jared K