Study Links Marijuana Use to Increased Risk of Bladder Cancer

Medical research has already linked marijuana use to head and neck and lung cancers and suggests that the association may even cause the diseases to appear at an earlier age.

A new study, published in the journal Urology, now finds that those individuals who smoke marijuana even more frequently are adding the additional risk for developing bladder cancer to their . As reported by Reuters Health, Dr. Martha K. Terris of the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta and her research team conducted a study of middle-aged men under the age of 50.  The study group consisted of 52 men with bladder cancer while the control group consisted of 104 men without the disease.

The researchers found that 88.5% of the men with bladder cancer were habitual marijuana smokers compared to only 69.2 % of the men in the control group.  The men with bladder cancer also exhibited a higher quantity of marijuana use, having smoked, on average, 1 to 2 joints per day over the past 48 years. (48 joint-years).  The control group reported an average of only 28.5 joint-years.

In addition to marijuana use, 90% of the study subjects also reported heavy tobacco use.  This made is difficult to establish a link between cigarettes and cancer risk.

The research team asserted that marijuana could be more cancer-causing than tobacco because it has a longer half-life, is usually smoked without a filter, and is held longer in the lungs.

Marijuana also impairs bladder contractility which can lead to urine retention and can subsequently expose the bladder to more marijuana compounds.

Terris advises doctors to question younger patients with symptoms of bladder cancer about their marijuana use in order to find out if they need to conduct further tests.

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