Does marijuana cause cancer and DNA damage?

Recently, an Australian study claimed that cannabis users are damaging their DNA and their altered genes will affect future generations. Not only that, but university paper’s authors concluded that pot smokers were effectively giving their kids cancer. However, a response from a leading cannabis researcher debunked the article as false.

A press release from the University of Western Australia stated on 24 May 2016 that “Scientists from The University of Western Australia have identified that using cannabis can alter a person’s DNA structure, causing mutations which can expose them to serious illnesses, and be passed on to their children and several future generations.”

Associate Professor Reece added that there is “unseen” damage to a person’s DNA. He said that “Parents may not realise that they are carrying these mutations, which can lie dormant and may only affect generations down the track, which is the most alarming aspect.”

However, leading cannabis researcher Ethan Russo debunked this study, finding that no actual tests were carried out to provide evidence of this controversial claim. In fact, Russo went on to contradict the study outright, saying that “The study’s claims are unequivocally false”. Russo is a board-certified neurologist, psychopharmacology researcher, and former Senior Medical Advisor to GW Pharmaceuticals. He is currently Past-President of the International Cannabinoid Research Society, and is former Chairman of the International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines, and has written multiple articles and books on the subject of cannabis’ therapeutic value.

Russo stated that the report is based on a foundation of falsehoods and added that cannabis is not mutagenic, nor is it teratogenic (productive of birth) or carcinogenic (causative of cancer). “Countless animal studies and human epidemiological studies support its relative safety in this regard,” he said.

It is poor science at best, and irresponsible science at worse to publish a research paper on the effects of one compound, claiming that its effects are somehow capable of disproportionately affecting future generations, without substantial epidemiological data that contrasts such effects to other environmental exposures, such as smoking or alcohol abuse.
Sources:

http://www.news.uwa.edu.au/201605248687/cannabis-linked-gene-mutation

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0027510716300574

http://www.phytecs.com/about-us/team/ethan-russo/

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