Marijuana: The Magic Cancer Cure?

Categories: Health
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Published on: 2013.10.31

Have we found the cure to cancer? Is it really going to be marijuana? In the news:

Marijuana Might Kill Cancer (Newsweek, 2013.10.29)
Study: Marijuana Compounds Can Kill Some Cancer Cells (TIME, 2013.10.28)
Active Ingredient in Marijuana Kills Brain Cancer Cells (ABC News, 2013.04.02)

The first two cited stories refer to a study published this month by Dr. Wai Liu, working out of London. The second also refers to a 2012 study at the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, which found that a non-psychoactive chemical compound found in cannabis can stop metastasis in some kinds of aggressive cancer. The third story refers to a study in Spain, which found that THC might be killing brain cancer cells.

According to the U.S. Centers For Disease Control And Prevention, cancer kills about 7.6 million people per year, worldwide. Considering that about 55 million people die every year, that means something like 13.8% of them are dying of cancer. “More people die from cancer than from AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined.”

About a third of cancer deaths can be avoided through prevention, the CDC says. Screening for cervical, colorectal, and breast cancers, can often find them in an early enough stage to treat them. Avoiding tobacco, limiting alcohol use, avoiding excessive exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun and tanning beds, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, maintaining a healthy weight, and being physically active have all been shown to reduce risk of various cancers.

That still leaves several million deaths per year.

How quickly would the U.S. legalize the growth and possession of cannabis if it’s conclusively shown that it could reduce another third?

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