Come, Look, See…

Marijuana NOT a major Cancer risk, studies find…
February 23, 2007, 4:37 pm
Filed under: Drugs

I was reading an article today about an organization called Americans for Safe Access (ASA) which has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human services. In a nutshell, this organization represents patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens who advocate the safe use of and access to medical marijuana. ASA’s suit claims that the government is using taxpayers money to disseminate false information about the ‘dangers’ of marijuana, much of which is presented in direct contradiction to scientific findings.

This isn’t breaking news by any means. It’s widely known that the government has largely failed on its war on drugs and Nancy Regan’s ‘Just Say No’ campaign in the ’80’s correlated with an increase drug use among adolescent individuals. Despite the obvious failure, our government continues to spend taxpayer money on trying to convince the public that marijuana can and will lead to an awful case of Reefer Madness.

All of this brouhaha got me thinking about a couple of articles I read a couple of years back which went largely unnoticed, (surprisingly). One of the articles spoke about a study of 2,200 people in Los Angeles which found that marijuana users were no more likely than nonusers to develop lung, head or neck cancers. Another article from 2005, also described a study which had found no cancer risk resulting from marijuana use – even in multiple, daily users. In fact, both of these studies found evidence implicating THC as a potentially cancer-PREVENTING chemical. Because I haven’t read the actual published articles for these studies (something I plan to do in the near future) I cannot vouch for the reliability and validity or the overall statistical design of these studies. Nonetheless, these PEER-REVIEWED and PUBLISHED articles are reporting a common finding – that marijuana use and cancer don’t correlate. Granted, smoke in your lungs is smoke in your lungs – no matter which way you look at it – and can itself cause its own medical problems. For example, respiratory problems and chronic cough are all a result of heavy smoke inhalation regardless of whether you’re inhaling cigarette or marijuana smoke – but for our own government to ignore science (i.s. see Global Warming) altogether is unacceptable.

I myself am not only an advocate of legalizing marijuana for medical purposes, but I am also of the field who believes marijuana as a whole should be legal and taxed just as nicotine and alcohol are today.

Below I provide both of the articles in question. Please feel free to forward this post on or copy and paste these articles to your friends. It’s information well worth being exposed to.

Marijuana not a major cancer risk, says study
by Amy Norton,
Reuters News Agency
Oct. 26, 2005

Although both marijuana and tobacco smoke are packed with cancer- causing chemicals, other qualities of marijuana seem to keep it from promoting lung cancer, according to a new report.

The difference rests in the often opposing actions of the nicotine in tobacco and the active ingredient, THC, in marijuana, says Dr. Robert Melamede of the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs.

He reviewed the scientific evidence supporting this contention in a recent issue of Harm Reduction Journal.

Whereas nicotine has several effects that promote lung and other types of cancer, THC acts in ways that counter the cancer-causing chemicals in marijuana smoke, Melamede explained in an interview with Reuters Health.

“THC turns down the carcinogenic potential,” he said.

For example, lab research indicates that nicotine activates a body enzyme that converts certain chemicals in both tobacco and marijuana smoke into cancer-promoting form. In contrast, studies in mice suggest that THC blocks this enzyme activity.

Another key difference, Melamede said, is in the immune system effects of tobacco and marijuana. Smoke sends irritants into the respiratory system that trigger an immune-regulated inflammatory response, which involves the generation of potentially cell-damaging substances called free radicals. These particles are believed to contribute to a range of diseases, including cancer.

But cannabinoids — both those found in marijuana and the versions found naturally in the body — have been shown to dial down this inflammatory response, Melamede explained.

Another difference between tobacco and marijuana smoking, he said, has to do with cells that line the respiratory tract. While these cells have receptors that act as docks for nicotine, similar receptors for THC and other cannabinoids have not been found.

Nicotine, Melamede said, appears to keep these cells from committing “suicide” when they are genetically damaged, by smoking, for instance. When such cells do not kill themselves off, they are free to progress into tumors.

THC, however, does not appear to act this way in the respiratory tract — though, in the brain, where there are cannabinoid receptors, it may have the beneficial effect of protecting cells from death when they are damaged from an injury or stroke, according to Melamede.

All of this, he said, fits in with population studies that have failed to link marijuana smoking with a higher risk of lung cancer — though there is evidence that pot users have more respiratory problems, such as chronic cough and frequent respiratory infections.

If marijuana does not promote lung cancer, that could factor into the ongoing debate over so-called medical marijuana. Melamede said he believes “marijuana has loads of medicinal value,” for everything from multiple sclerosis, to the chronic pain of arthritis, to nausea caused by cancer treatment.

U.S. government officials, however, maintain that the evidence for medical marijuana is not there. Ten states allow people to use marijuana with a doctor’s prescription, but the Supreme Court has ruled that federal law trumps state law.


Marijuana Cancer Risk Played Down
By Heather Burke, Bloomberg News
Source: Boston Globe
May 24, 2006

New York — People who smoke marijuana may be at less risk of developing lung cancer than tobacco smokers, according to a study presented yesterday.
The study of 2,200 people in Los Angeles found that even heavy marijuana smokers were no more likely to develop lung, head, or neck cancer than nonusers, in contrast with tobacco users, whose risk increases the more they smoke.

The findings seemed to be a surprise; marijuana smoke has some of the same cancer-causing substances as tobacco smoke, often in higher concentrations, said the senior researcher, Donald Tashkin, a professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. One possible explanation is that THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, a key ingredient in marijuana not present in tobacco, may inhibit tumor growth, he said.

“You can’t give marijuana a completely clean bill of health,” said Tashkin, who planned a presentation of the study yesterday before the American Thoracic Society. “I wouldn’t give any smoke substance a clean bill of health. All you can say is we haven’t been able to confirm our suspicions that marijuana might be a risk factor for lung and head and neck cancer.”

About 1,200 adults under 60 with cancer of the lung, tongue, mouth, throat, or esophagus, took part in the study, as well as about 1,000 without cancer. The study ran from 1999 to 2003.

Marijuana use was found to have been no greater or less in any of the groups, 44 percent of those with lung cancer, 41 percent with head or neck cancers, and 42 percent of those without cancer, Tashkin said.

Other studies had suggested that marijuana smoking was a risk factor for cancer, Tashkin said. Marijuana smokers inhale more deeply than tobacco smokers, and often hold the smoke in their lungs more than four times longer, depositing more tar, he said.

The results of Tashkin’s study corroborated some earlier research, said Paul Armentano of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, which advocates legalizing marijuana use. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Drug Abuse, Tashkin said.

Note: Tobacco is called a bigger threat.

Source: Boston Globe (MA)
Author: Heather Burke, Bloomberg News
Published: May 24, 2006
Copyright: 2006 Globe Newspaper Company

Related Articles:

Marijuana Does Not Raise Lung Cancer Risk

Mary Jane Trumps Joe Camel

No Link Between Marijuana Use and Lung Cancer



U.S. Law Allows Chemical/Biological Testing on You
February 9, 2007, 7:41 pm
Filed under: Government

And people say Chemtrails are a bunch of bullshit…



(a) PROHIBITED ACTIVITIES.—The Secretary of Defense may not conduct (directly or by contract)

(1) any test or experiment involving the use of a chemical agent or biological agent on a civilian population; or
(2) any other testing of a chemical agent or biological agent on human subjects.

(b) EXCEPTIONS.—Subject to subsections (c), (d), and (e), the prohibition in subsection (a) does not apply to a test or experiment carried out for any of the following purposes:

(1) Any peaceful purpose that is related to a medical, therapeutic, pharmaceutical, agricultural, industrial, or research activity.
(2) Any purpose that is directly related to protection against toxic chemicals or biological weapons and agents.
(3) Any law enforcement purpose, including any purpose related to riot control.

The Perpetuating Myth About a ‘Pseudo-Science’
February 2, 2007, 5:44 pm
Filed under: Psychiatry, Psychology

Recently while trudging through the vast information on the government’s plan to kill us all (I wish I was kidding), I came across this gem. Psychology and psychiatry have been perpetuated by many theorists as the devil incarnate – albeit, for good reason. The sordid history of these two fields is rife with scary stories of experiments that amounted to nothing more than psychological torture, simply put. However, just as medicine has come a long way from prescribing radioactive water for those “under-the-weather” days, so too has the field of mental health. That’s not to say that there aren’t still some very controversial practices in the world of healing – but any responsible “theorist” should be careful to understand the difference between then and now.

Dr. John Breeding of Austin, TX has an article up on (by famed conspiracy theorist Alex Jones)claiming that there is no biological or environmental basis for mental disorders (he specifies a few specifically). His article is an example of someone in the “alarmist” mode. When someone is in this mode, they tend to spew out a smorgasbord of facts, half-truths, lies, and assumptions – and usually in one breath. Although I agree with some of the information he presents in a couple of points, his first point caught my attention. Follow the link for the complete article. For now, I only want to focus on his first claim.

“1. No children’s behavioral problem routinely seen by a psychiatrist or other physician has been scientifically demonstrated to be of biological or genetic causation. There is no objective test, no confirmatory physical or chemical abnormality—for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, or any of the other childhood diagnoses popular among psychiatrists. These diagnoses are wholly subjective, based on judgments of what is and isn’t normal behavior.”

First and foremost, I’d like to know what behavioral problem he’s talking about here. There are a few. Although I haven’t read about empirically proven biological genetic markers for ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder)(you might have, though), writing that OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and ADHD aren’t the result of biological or genetic causes is simply the result of laziness on his part; I say this because it is quite obvious that Dr. Breeding has failed to read any recent, relevant and peer-reviewed literature on the topic. Although there hasn’t been an individual gene identified as the cause of OCD, the interplay among a few genes have been suspect. The article below summarizes a smidgen of the most recent research in this area – I do have the actual journal articles in pdf format if you’d care to read them.


“In two papers published simultaneously in the Archives of General Psychiatry, researchers from the University of Michigan, the University of Illinois at Chicago, the University of Chicago and the University of Toronto report finding an association between OCD patients and a glutamate transporter gene called SLC1A1.

The gene encodes a protein called EAAC1 that regulates the flow of a substance called glutamate in and out of brain cells. So, variations in the gene might lead to alterations in that flow, perhaps putting a person at increased risk of developing OCD.

The new findings are especially important not only because of the simultaneous discoveries reported in the papers, but also because of previous studies that show a functional link between glutamate and OCD. Brain imaging and spinal fluid studies have shown differences in the glutamate system between OCD patients and healthy volunteers, including in areas of the brain where the EAAC1 protein is most common.”

This isn’t your Freudian psychology we’re talking about here folks. It’s almost comical (I said almost)…actually no…It’s upsetting to hear and read people generalize (wrongly) about a very important field like psychology and claim that it’s a pseudo-science. Brain imaging studies, for example, are a far cry from dream interpretation and provide concrete scientific evidence of abnormalities in chemical and physical functioning – but I digress.

Back to OCD. In addition, twin studies have shown that over 70% of identical twins and 50% of fraternal twins will share an OCD disorder further providing evidence of a genetic link and/or environmental link. These numbers are similar for twins who grow apart from each other in different environmental contexts. Numerous studies have also found that abnormalities of the frontal lobes, basal ganglia, and cingulum are common in people with OCD, contradicting Dr. Breeding’s belief that there is no confirmatory evidence linking this disorder with any physical abnormality.

ADHD is a different monster altogether but to deny any chemical abnormality associated with it is simply irresponsible. Many researchers have argued over the seemingly exponential growth of ADHD in children and adults. The arguments for the increase can usually be divided into two camps; those who argue that the increase is due to better identification tools and increased awareness of an already existing problem; others argue that the increase is due to the increased coverage of ADHD in the popular press, coupled with the unfortunate simplicity of diagnosing ADHD. I am of the camp that believes ADHD is a real disorder but is overly diagnosed. What many anti-psychological theorists also fail to understand is that ADHD is most often diagnosed by a family physician who has very little training in the correct identification of ADHD. If you’ve ever been diagnosed by a physician as having ADHD, chances are you were given a 10 question survey and a brief 5-minute background history interview to make that diagnosis. THAT’S UNETHICAL AND WRONG WRONG WRONG.

Psychologists (good ones anyway) do not do this but require a comprehensive assessment which includes: full individual and family developmental history, behavior rating scales and observations by parents, teachers and psychologists (in and out of the classroom and in different contexts), interviews with the child about their experiences in different contexts, academic data from schools, test scores, current placement, screenings for learning disabilities, etc. Some psychologists will also request that the child have neuro and/or physical exams as well. So yes Dr. Breeding, there isn’t any one objective test for ADHD and many of these disorders – and he himself should know that. Truthfully, however, I’d be very suspicious of any “test” that labeled me as having ADHD, depression, or schizophrenia in just one shot. Just like in the medical field, you need comprehensive tests to make such a serious, life altering diagnosis.

I am not denying the difficulty in finding the EXACT causes of mental health disorders, but the same can be said for many various forms of cancer, diabetes, HIV, etc – yet we know they exist and are a result of physical, chemical/genetic abnormalities in addition to the environmental context we are exposed to…

To surmise, Dr. Breeding writes that there is no confirmatory physical or chemical abnormality for OCD (FALSE – SEE ABOVE), ADHD (FALSE), ODD, (not sure here), depression (FALSE FALSE FALSE), bipolar disorder (FALSE) and schizophrenia (FALSE). Not to mention that schizophrenia is rarely ever dx in children, yet according to Dr. Breeding, it’s a popular dx among psychiatrists. That is simply not true.

In Dr. Breeding’s last sentence, he clumps a bunch of very different mental disorders together and generalizes the way in which they are diagnosed. You can’t clump completely different mental disorders together and say dx for all of them are wholly subjective or based on what psychologists believe isn’t normal behavior. A salient example is depression. According to his logic then, all depressed adolescent girls are simply exhibiting normal behavior, and the only reason they’re identified as depressed is because of psychology’s warped view of what normal looks like. Wrong! Sorry Doc, but I don’t believe (as nor should he) that it is psychology’s subjective call in saying that it is beyond normal for an 11 year old girl to be overwhelmed with a sadness she can’t explain, cry for no reason, not eat, sleep, and threaten (or tries) to kill herself.

Often, conspiracy theorists who call psychologists pseudo-scientists (I heard this spouted just yesterday, in fact, to a crowd of about a few hundred people at an Alex Jones’ talk) also speak about how our government is poisoning us on a regular basis through fluoride in the water, Aspartame, chem-trails, vaccines, flu-shots and a whole host of other “suspect” practices. Much of this is actually based on fact and I do believe we are subjected to dangerous and life-threatening experiments by our government that we’re not made privy too. But what bothers me is that the same people who spout this stuff are usually quick to turn around and say mental health disorders don’t exist or are used as an excuse to drug children. If we truly are being exposed to weird chemicals in our drinking water, food and air, then it makes sense to find a corollary relationship between that and a rise in mental health disorders, especially in children.

Regardless, it’s always YOUR job to find out the facts. Never accept anything at face-value. Unfortunately, Dr. Breeding uses his Ph.D. status as confirmation that he knows what he’s talking about. It certainly and inherently brings about some sort of credibility to his statements. But as we’ve now learned, just because you have the credentials, it doesn’t mean you’re right. Although I have to say I applaud his non-profit organization for trying to offer non-drug alternatives to young people suffering from mental health disease, it’s almost lost in his flawed rant in point 1.

I myself am always willing to dialogue with opposing views because this is the only way we can work together to tease out fact from fiction from pseudo-truths. This guy doesn’t help make that process any easier, however.