Monday, July 04, 2005

[DrugWar] US: Web: Study: Smoking Marijuana Does Not Cause Lung Cancer

I heard Michael Savage the other day saying that marijuana causes cancer
and that it has 200 times more tar than tobacco. I had always heard
that it wasn't necessarily the tar that caused the cancer but the fact
that tobacco has radioactive isotopes in it and marijuana does not.

-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Lake [mailto:rlake@mapinc.org]
Sent: Saturday, July 02, 2005 6:26 PM
To: mmjlist@cannabismd.org; hemp-talk@hemp.net;
DPFT-L@listserv.tamu.edu; drugwar@mindvox.com; va-dpr@drcnet.org
Subject: [DrugWar] US: Web: Study: Smoking Marijuana Does Not Cause Lung
Cancer

Newshawk: Kirk
Pubdate: Sat, 02 Jul 2005
Source: CounterPunch (US Web)
Column: Pot Shots
Copyright: 2005 CounterPunch
Contact: counterpunch@counterpunch.org
Website: http://www.counterpunch.org/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/3785
Author: Fred Gardner
Cited: International Cannabinoid Research Society
http://www.cannabinoidsociety.org/
Cited: Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research http://www.cmcr.ucsd.edu/
Cited: California Cannabis Research Medical Group http://www.ccrmg.org/
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/pot.htm (Marijuana)
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/mmj.htm (Marijuana - Medicinal)
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/find?232 (Chronic Pain)
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/find?323 (GW Pharmaceuticals)

STUDY: SMOKING MARIJUANA DOES NOT CAUSE LUNG CANCER

Marijuana smoking -"even heavy longterm use"- does not cause cancer of
the lung, upper airwaves, or esophagus, Donald Tashkin reported at this
year's meeting of the International Cannabinoid Research Society. Coming
from Tashkin, this conclusion had extra significance for the assembled
drug-company and university-based scientists (most of whom get funding
from the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse).
Over the years, Tashkin's lab at UCLA has produced irrefutable evidence
of the damage that marijuana smoke wreaks on bronchial tissue. With
NIDA's support, Tashkin and colleagues have identified the potent
carcinogens in marijuana smoke, biopsied and made photomicrographs of
pre-malignant cells, and studied the molecular changes occurring within
them. It is Tashkin's research that the Drug Czar's office cites in ads
linking marijuana to lung cancer. Tashkin himself has long believed in a
causal relationship, despite a study in which Stephen Sidney examined
the files of 64,000 Kaiser patients and found that marijuana users
didn't develop lung cancer at a higher rate or die earlier than
non-users. Of five smaller studies on the question, only two -involving
a total of about 300 patients- concluded that marijuana smoking causes
lung cancer. Tashkin decided to settle the question by conducting a
large, prospectively designed, population-based, case-controlled study.
"Our major hypothesis," he told the ICRS, "was that heavy, longterm use
of marijuana will increase the risk of lung and upper-airwaves cancers."

The Los Angeles County Cancer Surveillance program provided Tashkin's
team with the names of 1,209 L.A. residents aged 59 or younger with
cancer (611 lung, 403 oral/pharyngeal, 90 laryngeal, 108 esophageal).
Interviewers collected extensive lifetime histories of marijuana,
tobacco, alcohol and other drug use, and data on diet, occupational
exposures, family history of cancer, and various "socio-demographic
factors." Exposure to marijuana was measured in joint years (joints per
day x 365). Controls were found based on age, gender and neighborhood.
Among them, 46% had never used marijuana, 31% had used less than one
joint year, 12% had used 10-30 j-yrs, 2% had used 30-60 j-yrs, and 3%
had used for more than 60 j-yrs. Tashkin controlled for tobacco use and
calculated the relative risk of marijuana use resulting in lung and
upper airwaves cancers. All the odds ratios turned out to be less than
one (one being equal to the control group's chances)! Compared with
subjects who had used less than one joint year, the estimated odds
ratios for lung cancer were .78; for 1-10 j-yrs, .74; for 10-30 j-yrs,
.85 for 30-60 j-yrs; and 0.81 for more than 60 j-yrs. The estimated odds
ratios for oral/pharyngeal cancers were 0.92 for 1-10 j-yrs; 0.89 for
10-30 j-yrs; 0.81 for 30-60 j-yrs; and 1.0 for more than 60 j-yrs.
"Similar, though less precise results were obtained for the other cancer
sites," Tashkin reported. "We found absolutely no suggestion of a dose
response." The data on tobacco use, as expected, revealed "a very potent
effect and a clear dose-response relationship -a 21-fold greater risk of
developing lung cancer if you smoke more than two packs a day."
Similarly high odds obtained for oral/pharyngeal cancer, laryngeal
cancer and esophageal cancer. "So, in summary" Tashkin concluded, "we
failed to observe a positive association of marijuana use and other
potential confounders."

There was time for only one question, said the moderator, and San
Francisco oncologist Donald Abrams, M.D., was already at the
microphone: "You don't see any positive correlation, but in at least one
category [marijuana-only smokers and lung cancer], it almost looked like
there was a negative correlation, i.e., a protective effect. Could you
comment on that?"

"Yes," said Tashkin. "The odds ratios are less than one almost
consistently, and in one category that relationship was significant, but
I think that it would be difficult to extract from these data the
conclusion that marijuana is protective against lung cancer. But that is
not an unreasonable hypothesis."

Abrams had results of his own to report at the ICRS meeting. He and his
colleagues at San Francisco General Hospital had conducted a randomized,
placebo-controlled study involving 50 patients with HIV-related
peripheral neuropathy. Over the course of five days, patients recorded
their pain levels in a diary after smoking either NIDA-supplied
marijuana cigarettes or cigarettes from which the THC had been
extracted. About 25% didn't know or guessed wrong as to whether they
were smoking the placebos, which suggests that the blinding worked.
Abrams requested that his results not be described in detail prior to
publication in a peer-reviewed medical journal, but we can generalize:
they exceeded expectations, and show marijuana providing pain relief
comparable to Gabapentin, the most widely used treatment for a condition
that afflicts some 30% of patients with HIV.

To a questioner who bemoaned the difficulty of "separating the high from
the clinical benefits," Abrams replied: "I'm an oncologist as well as an
AIDS doctor and I don't think that a drug that creates euphoria in
patients with terminal diseases is having an adverse effect." His study
was funded by the University of California's Center for Medicinal
Cannabis Research.

* * *

The 15th annual meeting of the ICRS was held at the Clearwater, Florida,
Hilton, June 24-27. Almost 300 scientists attended. R.
Stephen Ellis, MD, of San Francisco, was the sole clinician from
California. Los Angeles Farmacy operator Mike Ommaha and
therapist/cultivator Pat Humphrey showed up to audit the proceedings...
Some of the younger European scientists expressed consternation over the
recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling and the vote in Congress re-enforcing
the cannabis prohibition. "How can they dispute that it has medical
effect?" an investigator working in Germany asked us earnestly. She had
come to give a talk on "the role of different neuronal populations in
the pharmacological actions of
delta-9 THC." For most ICRS members, the holy grail is a legal synthetic
drug that exerts the medicinal effects of the prohibited herb. To this
end they study the mechanism of action by which the body's own
cannabinoids are assembled, function, and get broken down.
A drug that encourages production or delays dissolution, they figure,
might achieve the desired effect without being subject to "abuse..."
News on the scientific front included the likely identification of a
third cannabinoid receptor expressed in tissues of the lung, brain,
kidney, spleen and smaller branches of the mesenteric artery.
Investigators from GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca both reported finding
the new receptor but had different versions of its pharmacology. It may
have a role in regulating blood pressure.

Several talks and posters described the safety and efficacy of Sativex,
G.W. Pharmaceuticals' whole-plant extract containing high levels of THC
and CBD (cannabidiol) formulated to spray in the mouth.
G.W. director Geoffrey Guy seemed upbeat, despite the drubbing his
company's stock took this spring when UK regulators withheld permission
to market Sativex pending another clinical trial. Canada recently
granted approval for doctors to prescribe Sativex, and five sales reps
from Bayer (to whom G.W. sold the Canadian marketing
rights) are promoting it to neurologists. Sativex was approved for the
treatment of neuropathic pain in multiple sclerosis, but can be
prescribed for other purposes as doctors see fit.

A more detailed report on the ICRS meeting will appear in the upcoming
issue of O'Shaughnessy's, a journal put out by California's small but
growing group of pro-cannabis doctors. To get on the mailing list, send
a contribution of any amount to the CCRMG (California Cannabis Research
Medical Group) at p.o. box 9143, Berkeley, CA 94709. It's a 501c3
non-profit and your correspondent's main source of income.

Meanwhile, Back in San Francisco...

The California contingent was en route to the ICRS meeting when Marian
Fry, M.D. and her husband, attorney Dale Schafer, were arrested on
federal charges of conspiring to provide marijuana to a patient. On the
same day, three San Francisco cannabis clubs were raided by the DEA and
19 people -all Asians and a few Latinos- charged with conspiracy to
cultivate and distribute marijuana.
Affidavits allege that they grew cannabis in rented houses in S.F., the
East Bay and the Peninsula for sale to dispensaries and on the black
market. Three men were charged with intent to sell ecstasy. (An
undercover agent allegedly had purchased 1,000 tabs from a man named
Enrique Chan. During the raids on 26 locations, a total of 50 tabs were
found on one individual.) The two alleged ringleaders, Richard Wang and
Vincent Wan, were charged with money laundering. Defense lawyers say the
alleged money laundering consisted of using dispensary proceeds to
underwrite the grow ops. At a July 1 detention hearing, bail for Wang
was set at $2 million. Wan has not yet been apprehended or turned
himself in.

Former district attorney Terence Hallinan is representing Sergio
Alvarez, who hired him several months ago after police raided a house in
the Sunset district where Alvarez was allegedly cultivating marijuana.
"I didn't know at the time that that would become part of a conspiracy
case," Hallinan said after the detention hearing.
Alvarez's bail was set at $500,000; his working-class parents are
putting up their modest Sunnyvale home as surety. Hallinan says that
every cannabis dispensary has links to a network of growers, and that
the decision to take down these three was an attempt to exploit
anti-Asian sentiment. "They asked themselves, 'Who will we start with
now that we've been given permission [by the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling
in the Raich case]? Let's go after the Chinese!' San Francisco has more
than a hundred-year history of anti-Chinese attitudes and policies."
Contemporary resentments towards Asians in San Francisco center around
their apparent economic successes. It's an impossibly expensive housing
market, and one occasionally hears non-Asians say, with mixed admiration
and envy, things like: "How can they arrive from Hong Kong in 1995 and
buy a house in the Sunset in 1996?" The answer is: by pooling resources
(conspiring) with friends and family to make the down payment.

THE INNER SUNSET

I used to have the real estate knack

But all that I gaineth, I giveth back

Only to wind up with you in this cozy

Old shack in the Inner Sunset years

*

Obviously I did everything wrong

Except one or two that strung me along

The road to the club called Chez Nancy Wong

A shack in the Inner Sunset years

*

Where there's noodles at midnight

If you are in need of a treat

Where the Judah car makes an 'N'

'n careens down the street

*

I still believe that it's all within reach

A big enough place between here and the beach

And from each and according to each

A shack in the sunset in the sunset years

*

The blood orange sunset years

The cool gray sunset years


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