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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

My propaganda alarm went off this morning when I saw this provocative headline:

Oral sex, marijuana use linked to throat cancer

Wow, that's quite a claim. I had to read more, especially since this story comes out of Nashville. Turns out, the cannabis use was only a "behavior associated with..." not a causality of the cancer. In fact the specific type of cancer that this report covered was HPV positive upper throat cancer. HPV, or the Human Papilloma Virus, is a sexually transmitted disease. So whoring around is still risky, imagine that.

There was absolutely no attempt to isolate cannabis use variable as a causality of the throat cancer because it isn't the cause. HPV caused the cancer. Cannabis use is often considered to be a risky behavior in clinical studies because it is illegal, not cause any significant health malady. I will concede that cannabis smokers have an elevated risk of bronchitis, but that's what I recommend a vaporizer for.

This paragraph set off another alarm for me:
"It's possible that other behaviors linked with marijuana use could be the real culprit, and our results will need to be confirmed," she [ Dr. Maura L. Gillison] said. Chemicals in marijuana called cannabinoids could affect the immune system's ability to fight a virus.
Was Dr. Gillison's quote spurred by direct questioning by the reporter, i.e. "Is 'marijuana' the contributing factor here?" If so, the doctor's response could actually be a dismissal of the proposition.

Then the reporter follows the speculation with a dubious claim of immunosuppression. The truth is, there's no evidence that cannabinoids suppress the human immune system. In fact, quite the opposite has been shown. Cannabanoids have been shown in the use of autoimmune disease patients to regulate the body's immune responses. I'm not challenging Dr. Gillison's expertise, she's not the one making the grandious claims. BTW, I actually have the courage to research and link to my health claims of cannabis.

This story is the product of a reporter with an vendetta against cannabis. In fact the original news release from John Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center doesn't even mention cannabis use. ( The updated one does. ) In fact, when I first heard about this study I couldn't find any mention of "marijuana" or cannabis on their entire website. I'm so sick of propaganda pieces like this. Believe me, my wife and I aren't going to loose any sleep over this "link", and we would have a good reason to worry. ;-)