Pot Could Lead to Deadly Cancer
August 6, 2007
(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- People with HIV or other conditions leading to a compromised immune system might want to just say no to marijuana.
A new study suggests the active ingredient in pot -- Ä-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC -- can bind to key receptors on the surface of skin cells and promote infection with the Kaposi's sarcoma herpes virus (KSHV). KSHV can then lead to the development of a deadly type of cancer called Kaposi's sarcoma.
Smoking pot isn't the only way THC could be introduced into the skin cells. Study author Jerome E. Groopman, M.D., professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, notes an analog of THC is the active ingredient of Marinol (dronabinol), a drug often given to AIDS patients and others to help increase appetite and reduce the nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy drugs.
"These findings raise some serious questions about using marijuana, in any form, if you have a weakened immune system," he was quoted as saying.
The study was conducted in the laboratory using human skin cells to test the ability of THC to bind to the skin receptors. Results showed low doses of the ingredient -- about the amount typically seen in the bloodstream of the average marijuana smoker -- were enough to open the door for KSVH.
SOURCE: Cancer Research, published online August 1, 2007
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