Marijuana May Spur New Brain Cells
How would you like a building material that is stronger
than cement and SIX TIMES lighter? Better yet,
one of its main ingredients is the waste product
of a plant that literally grows like a weed.
Marijuana may help stave off
Active ingredient in pot may help preserve brain function
Man Says Hemp Oil Cured His Cancer
Run From The Cure-The Rick Simpson Hemp Oil Cancer Cure Story-YouTube Video
New Merit Seen In Cannabis Remedy
America's Love-Hate Relationship with Drugs
2700 Year Old Marijuana Stash Found in Shaman's Tomb
Brazilian Berry Destroys Cancer Cells In Lab
Cannabis College: A Masters in Marijuana
What Your Government Knows About Cannabis And Cancer -- And Isn't Telling You
Cannabis May Prevent Osteoporosis
For Three Decades, Politicians and Bureaucrats Have
Research On Marijuana's Role In Cancer Prevention
Credit: Paul Armentano
Cannabis cover-up: Since 1974, says NORML Foundation analyst Paul Armentano, the US government has turned a blind eye to research on marijuana's anticancer properties
Clinical research published recently in the journals Cancer Research and BMC Medicine touting the ability of cannabis to stave the spread of certain cancers is the latest in a three-decade long line of studies demonstrating pot's potential as an anticancer agent.
Not familiar with this research? You're not alone.
For more than 30 years, US politicians and bureaucrats have turned a blind eye to any and all science indicating that marijuana may play a role in cancer prevention, a finding that was first documented as early as 1974. That year, a research team at the Medical College of Virginia (acting at the behest of the federal government, which must preapprove all US research on marijuana) discovered that cannabis inhibited malignant tumor cell growth in culture and in mice. According to the study's results, reported nationally in an August 18, 1974, Washington Post newspaper feature, marijuana's psychoactive component THC, "slowed the growth of lung cancers, breast cancers and a virus-induced leukemia in laboratory mice, and prolonged their lives by as much as 36 percent."
Despite these favorable preliminary findings, US government officials dismissed the study (which was eventually published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in 1975), and refused to fund any follow-up research until conducting a similar—though secret—clinical trial in the mid-1990s. That study, conducted by the US National Toxicology Program to the tune of two million dollars, concluded that mice and rats administered high doses of THC over long periods had greater protection against malignant tumors than untreated controls.
Rather than publicize their findings, government researchers once again shelved the results, which only came to light after a draft copy of the findings were leaked in 1997 to a medical journal which in turn forwarded the story to the national media.
Nevertheless, in the eight years since the completion of the National Toxicology trial, the US government has yet to encourage or fund additional, follow-up studies examining the drug's potential to protect against the spread of cancerous tumors.
Fortunately, scientists overseas have generously picked up where US researchers so abruptly left off. In 1998, a research team at Madrid's Complutense University discovered that THC can selectively induce programmed cell death in brain tumor cells without negatively impacting surrounding healthy cells. Then in 2000, they reported in the journal Nature Medicine that injections of synthetic THC eradicated malignant gliomas (brain tumors) in one-third of treated rats, and prolonged life in another third by six weeks.
Last year, researchers at the University of Milan in Naples, Italy, reported in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics that non-psychoactive compounds in marijuana inhibited the growth of glioma cells in a dose-dependent manner, and selectively targeted and killed malignant cells through a process known as apoptosis.
More recently, researchers reported in the August 15, 2004 issue of Cancer Research, the journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, that marijuana's constituents inhibited the spread of brain cancer in human tumor biopsies. In a related development, a research team from the University of South Florida further noted that THC can also selectively inhibit the activation and replication of gamma herpes viruses. The viruses, which can lie dormant for years within white blood cells before becoming active and spreading to other cells, are thought to increase one's chances of developing cancers such as Kaposi's Sarcoma, Burkitt's lymphoma and Hodgkin's disease.
Regrettably, US politicians have been little swayed by these results, and remain steadfastly opposed to the notion of sponsoring—or even acknowledging—this growing body of clinical research. Their stubborn refusal to do so is a disservice not only to the scientific process, but also to the health and well being of America's citizenry.
Nonetheless, it appears that their silence will be unable to put this genie back in the bottle, as overseas research continues to move forward at a staggering pace. Writing this month in the journal of the American Society of Hematology, researchers at Saint Bartholomew's Hospital in London reported that THC induces cell death (apoptosis) in three leukemic cell lines. Authors further noted that the cannabinoid appears to function in manner different than standard chemotherapeutic agents such as cisplatin, and begins taking effect within mere hours after administration.
Swiss researchers are also weighing in on the use of cannabinoids' anticancer properties, reporting in a recent study published in the Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology that endogenous cannabinoids (naturally occurring compounds in the body that bind to the same receptors as the cannabinoids in marijuana) induced apoptosis in long-term and recently established glioma cell lines. Even more notably, a review article published last month in the journal Neuropharmacology concluded that cannabinoids' ability to selectively target and kill malignant cells set the basis for their potential use in the management of various types of cancers.
Unfortunately, as long as US politicians continue putting pot politics before patients' lives, it appears that any potential breakthroughs regarding the potentially curative powers of cannabis will only emerge in a land far from America's shores and beyond the reach of close-minded Washington bureaucrats.
Paul Armentano is the senior policy analyst for the NORML Foundation
in Washington, DC. He may be contacted via email at email@example.com.
Marijuana--Government policy--United States
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
Study Finds No Cancer-Marijuana Connection
By Marc Kaufman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 26, 2006; A03
The largest study of its kind has unexpectedly concluded that smoking marijuana, even regularly and heavily, does not lead to lung cancer.
The new findings "were against our expectations," said Donald Tashkin of the University of California at Los Angeles, a pulmonologist who has studied marijuana for 30 years.
"We hypothesized that there would be a positive association between marijuana use and lung cancer, and that the association would be more positive with heavier use," he said. "What we found instead was no association at all, and even a suggestion of some protective effect."
Federal health and drug enforcement officials have widely used Tashkin's previous work on marijuana to make the case that the drug is dangerous. Tashkin said that while he still believes marijuana is potentially harmful, its cancer-causing effects appear to be of less concern than previously thought.
Earlier work established that marijuana does contain cancer-causing chemicals as potentially harmful as those in tobacco, he said. However, marijuana also contains the chemical THC, which he said may kill aging cells and keep them from becoming cancerous.
Tashkin's study, funded by the National Institutes of Health's National Institute on Drug Abuse, involved 1,200 people in Los Angeles who had lung, neck or head cancer and an additional 1,040 people without cancer matched by age, sex and neighborhood.
They were all asked about their lifetime use of marijuana, tobacco and alcohol. The heaviest marijuana smokers had lighted up more than 22,000 times, while moderately heavy usage was defined as smoking 11,000 to 22,000 marijuana cigarettes. Tashkin found that even the very heavy marijuana smokers showed no increased incidence of the three cancers studied.
"This is the largest case-control study ever done, and everyone had to fill out a very extensive questionnaire about marijuana use," he said. "Bias can creep into any research, but we controlled for as many confounding factors as we could, and so I believe these results have real meaning."
Tashkin's group at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA had hypothesized that marijuana would raise the risk of cancer on the basis of earlier small human studies, lab studies of animals, and the fact that marijuana users inhale more deeply and generally hold smoke in their lungs longer than tobacco smokers -- exposing them to the dangerous chemicals for a longer time. In addition, Tashkin said, previous studies found that marijuana tar has 50 percent higher concentrations of chemicals linked to cancer than tobacco cigarette tar.
While no association between marijuana smoking and cancer was found, the study findings, presented to the American Thoracic Society International Conference this week, did find a 20-fold increase in lung cancer among people who smoked two or more packs of cigarettes a day.
The study was limited to people younger than 60 because those older than that were generally not exposed to marijuana in their youth, when it is most often tried.
© 2006 The Washington Post Company
Marijuana may help stave off
Active ingredient in pot may help preserve brain function
Updated: 4:31 p.m. ET Oct 5, 2006
WASHINGTON - Good news for aging hippies: smoking pot may stave off Alzheimer’s disease.
New research shows that the active ingredient in marijuana may prevent the progression of the disease by preserving levels of an important neurotransmitter that allows the brain to function.
Researchers at the Scripps Research Institute in California found that marijuana’s active ingredient, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, can prevent the neurotransmitter acetylcholine from breaking down more effectively than commercially marketed drugs.
THC is also more effective at blocking clumps of protein that can inhibit memory and cognition in Alzheimer’s patients, the researchers reported in the journal Molecular Pharmaceutics.
The researchers said their discovery could lead to more effective drug treatment for Alzheimer’s, the leading cause of dementia among the elderly.
Those afflicted with Alzheimer’s suffer from memory loss, impaired decision-making, and diminished language and movement skills. The ultimate cause of the disease is unknown, though it is believed to be hereditary.
Marijuana is used to relieve glaucoma and can help reduce side effects from cancer and AIDS treatment.
MAN SAYS HEMP OIL CURED HIS CANCER
Legion Trouble Helping To Get Message Out About 'Amazing' Oil
MACCAN - Rick Dwyer says officials with the provincial command of the Royal Canadian Legion were wrong to revoke the local legion's charter but he figures the action will nonetheless help all Canadians.
"The attention to this story is going across Canada and that means people will find out about this hemp oil and what it can do to save lives," Mr. Dwyer said Sunday.
He was referring to an essential oil a local man produces from the buds and leaves of the hemp plant.
Mr. Dwyer, a past president of the Maccan legion, and other executive members got into a spot of trouble with the Nova Scotia/Nunavut Command of the Royal Canadian Legion because of the oil.
"I did research for over a year and a half, I spoke to at least 30 people with diseases like cancer and diabetes wounds who were cured by this oil, and I felt we had a duty to make sure people knew of this," he said.
When notice of a meeting went out to the general public, doctors, the RCMP and the legion's command in Halifax, the legion was told the building couldn 't be used for the meeting.
"It cured my sister's cancer and my wife's arthritis - she was taking medicine and was still in horrible pain for 13 years - this oil is amazing," said Mr. Dwyer, 51.
"My father, who is 82 years old, was given 48 hours to live because of his cancer and that was in June - I took him off all his medicines and gave him this oil and he's cured."
The provincial command suspended the legion's charter and ousted its executive members last Wednesday when they continued to ignore orders forbidding meetings on the hemp oil at the legion.
"The legion will reopen as soon as possible and we'll have a management committee put in place," said Steve Wessel, chairman of the provincial command.
"We're not saying that we disagree, we're not saying ( the oil ) does or does not work, but growing marijuana is not legal and we don't want the Royal Canadian Legion associated with something illegal."
The man who makes the oil and gives it away for free said Sunday he believes the cure for cancer and many other illnesses lies in the thick, yellow grease he extracts from the plant.
"This whole community recognizes the good done by this oil and they're really up in arms over this whole thing," Rick Simpson said.
He said he first discovered the healing components of the oil when he was diagnosed with skin cancer four years ago.
"I had one growth surgically removed and I was supposed to get the other two off as well," he said.
Eventually, he said, he could see the cancer returning in the area of the surgical removal.
"I started to apply the oil to the areas and I cured my own cancer," he said.
Mr. Simpson said despite documented evidence and videotaped testimonials, he has been unable to break through the medical, legal and government communities to get the word out.
"That's why I'm so grateful the media is involved - we can get the message out."
Mr. Simpson was charged last year after the RCMP raided his property and seized more than 1,200 marijuana plants.
He pleaded not guilty to one count each of possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana, possession of less than three kilograms of cannabis resin for the purpose of trafficking, and growing marijuana. The case is still before the courts.
Mr. Simpson also ran as an Independent in the January federal election.
Newshawk: CMAP http://www.mapinc.org/cmap
Pubdate: Tue, 10 Oct 2006
Source: Chronicle Herald (CN NS)
Copyright: 2006 The Halifax Herald Limited
Author: Mary Ellen MacIntyre, Truro Bureau
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/mjcn.htm (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/hemp.htm (Hemp)
NEW MERIT SEEN IN CANNABIS REMEDY
Pubdate: Thu, 21 Jun 2007
Source: Otago Daily Times (New Zealand)
A cannabis folk remedy has been resurrected by scientists who found that active ingredients in the drug reduce allergic reactions.
The research, conducted on mice, points the way toward new cannabis-based treatments for irritated skin.
Extracts from the hemp plant were traditionally used to treat inflammation and could be bought from chemists in the early part of the 20th century.
But fears about the intoxicating effects of tetrahydrocannabinol ( THC ), the chemical that causes the cannabis high, led to a ban on sales in the 1930s.
The new research suggests that the herbalists who used cannabis ointments to treat eczema knew what they were doing. Scientists now believe that cannabis skin lotion, in a safe form too diluted to affect the brain, could make a comeback.
The team from the University of Bonn in Germany stumbled on the anti-inflammatory effect of THC while conducting a brain study on mice.
The animals were genetically engineered so they could not respond to cannabinoids, either THC or its natural equivalents generated in the brain.
Unexpectedly, the skin around ear clips placed on the mice to identify them became red and sore. The scientists realised what this meant - that cannabinoids act like a brake preventing the immune system from running out of control and triggering inflammation.
For 20 years, scientists have known that the brain produces cannabinoids, but it has not been clear why.
They appear to have psychological effects, and influence bone growth. Another possible explanation now seems to be that they help regulate the immune system.
The German scientists confirmed their suspicions by dabbing THC ointment on the skin of mice exposed to allergens.
Professor Thomas Tuting, a member of the team, said: "If we dabbed THC solution on to the animals' skin shortly before and after applying the allergen, a lot less swelling occurred than normal.
"The THC attaches itself to the cannabinoid receptors and activates them. In this way, the active substance reduces the allergic reaction."
He said the amount of THC needed to treat skin allergies would be far too small to produce intoxicating effects.
Another treatment option was to develop drugs which prevent the breakdown
of natural cannabinoids in the brain.
The Household Physician
RUN FROM THE CURE
The Rick Simpson Story (Part 1 of 7)
After a serious head injury in 1997, Rick Simpson sought relief from his medical condition through the use of medicinal hemp oil. When Rick discovered that the hemp oil (with its high concentration of T.H.C.) cured cancers and other illnesses, he tried to share it with as many people as he could free of charge but when the story went public, the long arm of the law snatched the medicine - leaving potentially thousands of people without their cancer treatments - and leaving Rick with unconsitutional charges of possessing and trafficking marijuana!
May 3 / 4, 2008
Study: Smoking Pot Doesn't Cause Cancer--It May Prevent
The Greatest Story Never Told
Smoking Cannabis Does Not Cause
Cancer Of Lung or Upper Airways, Tashkin Finds;
Data Suggest Possible Protective Effect
The story summarized by that headline ran in O'Shaughnessy's (Autumn 2005), CounterPunch, and the Anderson Valley Advertiser. Did we win Pulitzers, dude? No, the story was ignored or buried by the corporate media. It didn't even make the "Project Censored" list of under-reported stories for 2005. "We were even censored by Project Censored," said Tod Mikuriya, who liked his shot of wry.
It's not that the subject is trivial. One in three Americans will be afflicted with cancer, we are told by the government (as if it's our immutable fate and somehow acceptable). Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the U.S. and lung cancer the leading killer among cancers. You'd think it would have been very big news when UCLA medical school professor Donald Tashkin revealed that components of marijuana smoke -although they damage cells in respiratory tissue- somehow prevent them from becoming malignant. In other words, something in marijuana exerts an anti-cancer effect.
Tashkin has special credibility. He was the lead investigator on studies dating back to the 1970s that identified the components in marijuana smoke that are toxic. It was Tashkin et al who published photomicrographs showing that marijuana smoke damages cells lining the upper airways. It was the Tashkin lab reporting that benzpyrene -a component of tobacco smoke that plays a role in most lung cancers- is especially prevalent in marijuana smoke. It was Tashkin's data documenting that marijuana smokers are more likely than non-smokers to cough, wheeze, and produce sputum.
Tashkin reviewed his findings April 4 at a conference organized by "Patients Out of Time," a reform group devoted to educating doctors and the public (as opposed to lobbying politicians). Some 30 MDs and nurses got continuing medical education credits for attending.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse supported Tashkin's marijuana-related research over the decades and readily gave him a grant to conduct a large, population-based, case-controlled study that would prove definitively that heavy, long-term marijuana use increases the risk of lung and upper-airways cancers. What Tashkin and his colleagues found, however, disproved their hypothesis. (Tashkin is to marijuana as a cause of lung cancer what Hans Blick is to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction -an honest investigator who set out to find something, concluded that it wasn't there, and reported his results.)
Tashkin's team interviewed 1,212 cancer patients from the Los Angeles County Cancer Surveillance program, matched for age, gender, and neighborhood with 1,040 cancer-free controls. Marijuana use was measured in "joint years" (number of years smoked times number of joints per day). It turned out that increased marijuana use did not result in higher rates of lung and pharyngeal cancer (whereas tobacco smokers were at greater risk the more they smoked). Tobacco smokers who also smoked marijuana were at slightly lower risk of getting lung cancer than tobacco-only smokers.
These findings were not deemed worthy of publication in "NIDA Notes." Tashkin reported them at the 2005 meeting of the International Cannabinoid Research Society and they were published in the October 2006 issue of Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention. Without a press release from NIDA calling attention to its significance, the assignment editors of America had no idea that "Marijuana Use and the Risk of Lung and Upper Aerodigestive Tract Cancers: Results of a Population-Based Case-Control Study" by Mia Hashibe1, Hal Morgenstern, Yan Cui, Donald P. Tashkin, Zuo-Feng Zhang, Wendy Cozen, Thomas M. Mack and Sander Greenland was a blockbuster story.
I suggested to Eric Bailey of the L.A. Times that he write up Tashkin's findings -UCLA provided the local angle if the anti-cancer effect wasn't enough. Bailey said his editors wouldn't be interested for some time because he had just filed a marijuana-related piece (about the special rapport Steph Sherer of Americans for Safe Access enjoyed with some old corporado back in Washington, D.C.) The Tashkin scoop is still there for the taking!
Investigators from New Zealand recently got widespread media attention for a study contradicting Tashkin's results. "Heavy cannabis users may be at greater risk of chronic lung disease -including cancer- compared to tobacco smokers," is how BBC News summed up the New Zealanders' findings. The very small size of the study -79 smokers took part, 21 of whom smoked cannabis only- was not held against the authors. As conveyed in the corporate media, the New Zealand study represented the latest word on this important subject (as if science were some kind of tennis match and the truth just gets truthier with every volley).
Tashkin criticized the New Zealanders' methodology in his talk at Asilomar: "There's some cognitive dissonance associated with the interpretation of their findings. I think this has to do with the belief model among the investigators and -I wish they were here to defend themselves- the integrity of the investigators... They actually published another paper in which they mimicked the design that we used for looking at lung function."
Tashkin spoke from the stage of an airy redwood chapel designed by Julia Morgan. He is pink-cheeked, 70ish, wears wire-rimmed spectacles. "For tobacco they found what you'd expect: a higher risk for lung cancer and a clear dose-response relationship. A 24-fold increase in the people who smoked the most... What about marijuana? If they smoked a small or moderate amount there was no increased risk, in fact slightly less than one. But if they were in the upper third of the group, then their risk was six-fold... A rather surprising finding, and one has to be cautious about interpreting the results because of the very small number of cases (14) and controls (4)."
Tashkin said the New Zealanders employed "statistical sleight of hand." He deemed it "completely implausible that smokers of only 365 joints of marijuana have a risk for developing lung cancer similar to that of smokers of 7,000 tobacco cigarettes... Their small sample size led to vastly inflated estimates... They had said 'it's ideal to do the study in New Zealand because we have a much higher prevalence of marijuana smoking.' But 88 percent of their controls had never smoked marijuana, whereas 36% of our controls (in Los Angeles) had never smoked marijuana. Why did so few of the controls smoke marijuana? Something fishy about that!"
Strong words for a UCLA School of Medicine professor!
As to the highly promising implication of his own study -that something in marijuana stops damaged cells from becoming malignant- Tashkin noted that an anti-proliferative effect of THC has been observed in cell-culture systems and animal models of brain, breast, prostate, and lung cancer. THC has been shown to promote known apoptosis (damaged cells die instead of reproducing) and to counter angiogenesis (the process by which blood vessels are formed -a requirement of tumor growth). Other antioxidants in cannabis may also be involved in countering malignancy, said Tashkin.
Much of Tashkin's talk was devoted to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, another condition prevalent among tobacco smokers. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are two forms of COPD, which is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Air pollution and tobacco smoke are known culprits. Inhaled pathogens cause an inflammatory response, resulting in diminished lung function. COPD patients have increasing difficulty clearing the airways as they get older.
Tashkin and colleagues at UCLA conducted a major study in which they measured lung function of various cohorts over eight years and found that tobacco-only smokers had an accelerated rate of decline, but marijuana smokers -even if they smoked tobacco as well- experienced the same rate of decline as non-smokers. "The more tobacco smoked, the greater the rate of decline," said Tashkin. "In contrast, no matter how much marijuana was smoked, the rate of decline was similar to normal." Tashkin concluded that his and other studies "do not support the concept that regular smoking of marijuana leads to COPD."
Hope that makes you breathe easier.
Fred Gardner is editor of O'Shaughnessy's. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pubdate: Sun, 7 Sep 2008
Source: International Herald-Tribune (International)
Copyright: International Herald Tribune 2008
Author: Henry Fountain
Marijuana may be something of a wonder drug -- though perhaps not in
the way you might think.
Researchers in Italy and Britain have found that the main active
ingredient in marijuana -- tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC -- and related
compounds show promise as antibacterial agents, particularly against
microbial strains that are already resistant to several classes of
It has been known for decades that Cannabis sativa has antibacterial
properties. Experiments in the 1950s tested various marijuana
preparations against skin and other infections, but researchers at the
time had little understanding of marijuana's chemical makeup.
The current research, by Giovanni Appendino of the University of the
Eastern Piedmont and colleagues and published in The Journal of
Natural Products, looked at the antibacterial activity of the five
most common cannabinoids. All were found effective against several
common multi-resistant bacterial strains, although, perhaps
understandably, the researchers suggested that the nonpsychotropic
cannabinoids might prove more promising for eventual use.
Researchers looking at the effects of cannabis on bones have found its impact varies dramatically with age.
The study found that while the drug may reduce bone strength in the young, it could protect against osteoporosis, a weakening of the bones, in later life.
The results were uncovered by a team at the University of Edinburgh who compared the drug's effects on mice.
Osteoporosis affects up to 30% of women and about 12% of men at some point in their lives.
The group found that cannabis can activate a molecule found naturally in the body that is key to the development of osteoporosis.
When the type 1 cannabinoid receptor (CB1) comes into contact with cannabis, it has an impact on bone regeneration.
However, until now, it was not clear whether the drug had a positive or negative effect.
Researchers, funded by the Arthritis Research Campaign, investigated this using mice which lacked the CB1 receptor.
The scientists then used compounds - similar to those in cannabis - that activated the CB1 receptor.
They found that compounds increased the rate at which bone tissue was destroyed in the young.
Despite this, the study also showed that the same compounds decreased bone loss in older mice and prevented the accumulation of fat in the bones, which is known to occur in humans with osteoporosis.
Stuart Ralston, the Arthritis Research Campaign Professor of Rheumatology at the University of Edinburgh, who led the study, said: "This is an exciting step forward, but we must recognise that these are early results and more tests are needed on the effects of cannabis in humans to determine how the effects differ with age in people.
"We plan to conduct further trials soon and hope the results will help to deliver new treatments that will be of value in the fight against osteoporosis."
The results are published in Cell Metabolism.
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