Study: Marijuana Smokers Not at Risk for Oral Cancer

A study by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Wash., concludes that recreational marijuana smoking doesn’t appear to increase the risk of oral cancer, the Seattle Times reported June 2.

“Oral cancer probably shouldn’t be one of the things people should worry about when they decide whether to smoke marijuana,” said Stephen Schwartz, a member of the center’s public-health sciences division and the study’s senior author. “Our study found no relationship between marijuana and cancer.”

The study’s findings contradict a 1999 UCLA study that concluded that marijuana smokers were more likely to develop head and neck cancers than nonusers.

Schwartz and his team of researchers analyzed 407 oral-cancer patients and 615 healthy participants from western Washington. Nearly all of the study participants smoked marijuana less than once a week, while 1 percent of the cancer patients and 2 percent of the healthy participants were daily users of the drug.

The researchers could find no link between oral cancer and marijuana use.

The study’s findings are published in the June 2004 issue of Cancer Research, the journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.