Studies have shown that in the laboratory chemicals in cannabis have been found to halt the growth of prostate cancer cells. In another study, researchers found that long-term marijuana smokers were 62 percent less likely to develop head and neck cancers than those who did not smoke the drug.
"There's been a lot of interest in this for a long time," Angeles Cancer Clinic and Research Center's Dr. Lawrence Piro says. "And there are actually some chemicals called cannabinoids, and specifically a lipid molecule - a fat molecule - that appears to have some anti-cancer effects in the laboratory. There are some intriguing findings in people [about head and neck cancers], but let's remember that it's definitively shown now that excessive smoking in young men causes testicular cancer, and there is a possible link with causing bladder cancer. So the answer to this isn't to smoke and think that you won't have cancer. The answer is to study it further in the laboratory."
Dr. Piro says that the cancer-fighting chemicals and molecules could be made into a drug, possibly given intravenously, to battle cancer.
"Most of the common chemotherapy drugs come from plants," Dr. Piro continues. "I'd say the story with cancer [and cannabis] is it's intriguing, it's interesting, it needs more study in the laboratory. But it doesn't mean to go out and smoke."
"We do know it causes some cancers," E.R. physician Dr. Travis Stork says. "So be careful."