According to a recent study, long-term pot smokers are 62 percent less likely to develop head and neck cancers than people who do not smoke marijuana.
The study featured 434 patients suffering from head and neck cancers, and compared them with 547 individuals without head and neck cancers. All participants in the study were living in the Boston area from December 1999 to December 2003.
Researchers found that smoking marijuana from once every two weeks to three times every two weeks cut the risk of head and neck cancer in half.
Individuals who began smoking pot at an older age also had less risk than those who started smoking marijuana at a younger age.
Compared to people who do not smoke marijuana, those who began smoking pot between the ages of 15 and 19 years were 47 percent less likely to develop head and neck cancer, while users age 20 or older were 61 percent less likely.
The researchers are unsure why marijuana would prevent the cancers, but noted that chemicals in pot called cannabinoids have previously shown antitumor effects.
Marijuana has also been linked to the reduced risk of other cancers in previous studies.
Smoking marijuana has also been suggested to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease, fight weight loss associated with AIDS, and reduce nausea in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.
The medical field has mixed feelings about the effects of marijuana on human health.
Some studies suggest the drug causes lung cancer and increases the risk of heart attack or stroke.
According to the journal Cancer Prevention Research, researchers noted that further research is needed to verify the link between the reduced risk of head and neck cancers and marijuana.