In findings presented last week at the American Urological Association’s annual conference, researchers announced that the conclusion of an 11-year study has found a strong association between frequent marijuana use and a significantly reduced bladder cancer risk, USA Today reported Saturday.
The study, which has not yet undergone peer-review and was not published in any established journal, looked at the cancer risk of more than 83,000 men who smoke cigarettes, marijuana or both.
They found that men who smoke cigarettes multiply their risk of bladder cancer, while men who smoke only marijuana actually lower their risk. Men who smoke both still had an elevated risk of bladder cancer, but it was lower than those who just smoked tobacco.
“Cannabis use only was associated with a 45 percent reduction in bladder cancer incidence, and tobacco use only was associated with a 52 percent increase in bladder cancer,” study author Dr. Anil A. Thomas told the paper.
More amazing still: study participants who used marijuana more than 500 times a year saw even lower bladder cancer risks than those who only used marijuana occasionally. A total of 41 percent of the men studied said they smoked marijuana, while 57 percent smoked tobacco and 27 percent smoked both.
Critics pointed out that the study could have been more thorough if it included a control group of non-smokers and filtered for other lifestyle habits.
The link between lower cancer risks and higher marijuana usage rates is still unexplained, but Thomas speculated that human bladders may have cannabinoid receptors that react to the non-psychoactive components of marijuana, protecting cells against dangerous mutations that can cause cancer.
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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