Can You Get Cancer from Smoking Weed?

As marijuana becomes legal in some areas, more people are considering trying the herb. Known as weed, pot, cannabis, hemp, ganja and many other names, marijuana is the source of many questions from potential users. It is most commonly smoked in joints wrapped in paper, bongs, pipes, and other devices that heat or vaporize the herb. So will you get cancer from smoking weed? Since it is taken into the lungs and often held there for a moment before exhaling, much like a cigarette, the question is definitely a valid one.

Can You Get Cancer from Smoking Weed?

To answer that question, let’s see what the experts say. Interestingly, they are quite mixed. Some studies say that yes, marijuana can cause cancer. But other studies show no relation at all to smoking weed and the incidence of cancer. Here are some points to remember from these scientific studies.

Studies with a Positive Answer

  • Lung Cancer

In 2006, a review of studies didn’t find a significant link to cannabis and lung cancer; however, researchers did discover that smoking weed changed the lining of the lungs, and could lead to increased exposure to tar. In 2008, a New Zealand study found that regular weed smoking increased the risk of lung cancer.

  • Bladder Cancer

Scientists looked at this in 2006 as well, and found that men who had bladder cancer might have acquired their cancer while smoking marijuana. But it was a small study, and more studies need to be done.

  • Testicular Cancer

In 2009, there was a scare when scientists linked cannabis smoking to testicular cancers. When they factored in the use of tobacco and alcohol, there was still a link. However, this study again was very small, and more work needs to be done.

Studies with a Negative Answer

A study of lung cancer patients found that even the heaviest pot smokers, those who smoked more than 22,000 joints during the course of their lifetime, did not have a higher incidence of cancer than anyone else. So can you get cancer from smoking weed? These researchers say no, you can’t.  

Treating Cancer

Interestingly, some studies link smoking weed with effective cancer treatments. Weed smoke tested in the lab on various cancers found that it has the ability to kill certain cancer cells, particularly prostate, breast and brain tumor cells. However, during those tests much higher concentrations of cannabis were used than what someone would achieve during smoking the herb.

Why Is It Hard to Confirm?

Why all the discrepancies in the answer to 'can you get cancer from smoking weed?' Though it seems like an easy question to answer, research into cannabis is rather difficult. Many people smoke both weed and tobacco, which throws off the results – scientists don’t know how much influence each substance has on the final result. The amount of THC in cannabis varies as well, from one type of weed to another, and the content is much more today than it was just a few decades ago. Besides that, weed is still illegal in many areas, which limits the number of people who are willing to enter into studies concerning it.

Methods to Help Quitting Smoking Weed

If you are smoking weed often and you’re worried about what health effects your habit might have, it’s time to consider quitting. Though there is no clear tie between weed and cancer, there might be enough worry to prompt you to stop anyway. If you do choose to do so, here’s how.

1.   Quit Over Time

By lessening your intake each day for one month, you can wean yourself away from weed. Two to three months is recommended for those who are smoking a lot. Stay organized and pay close attention to how much weed you are smoking, ensuring that you smoke less each day. Make sure to keep yourself busy as well, so you are much less tempted to reach for a bong or joint. Try to engage more in the social life and hobbies.

2.   Quit Cold Turkey

This is the toughest method, but it works for some. You will need a lot of willpower and very supportive family and friends. Throw it all out – every last shred of it. Cut off contact with your dealer. Don’t be around friends who smoke weed or encourage you to do so. Turn to your support system for help, especially when you start to experience withdrawal symptoms. These might include irritability, increased body temperature, insomnia, no appetite, anxiety and mood swings.

3.   Seek Professional Help

Sometimes seeking help from an expert is what it takes to kick-start the end of the habit. A doctor or psychiatrist can offer drugs that will help you get through the withdrawal symptoms. Group counseling can help you talk your problems out and meet people with similar experiences. In-patient rehab is also an option, one that will ensure you are away from bad influences and don’t have an opportunity to use weed.

Regardless of the options you choose, remember that you are doing something good for yourself. Can you get cancer from smoking weed? If you stop smoking weed, you won’t have to worry about that question.

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