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Cannabis Cancer Risks Way Underestimated

One joint is actually as carcinogenic as 20 cigarettes, claims the British Lung Foundation.

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A sketchy joint with a good reputation.
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By Bryan Le

06/07/12

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Maybe you've heard the tale that smoking pot isn't as bad for your health as smoking tobacco cigarettes, and has practically no health hazards. But the British Lung Foundation (BLF) calls this balderdash, making the claim that one joint contains the carcinogenic equivalent of 20 cigarettes. It appears that nine in ten Brits believe the myth that tobacco is more toxic—a fact that has Dame Helena Shovelton, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, very concerned. “Young people in particular are smoking cannabis unaware that, for instance, each cannabis cigarette they smoke increases their chances of developing lung cancer by as much as an entire packet of 20 tobacco cigarettes,” she says. “This is not a niche problem—cannabis is one of the most widely-used recreational drugs in the UK, with almost a third of the population having tried it.” Why does the BLF say weed is more dangerous? Puffs from a joint are about two-thirds larger, are inhaled more deeply and are held four times longer than those from cigarettes, bringing in four times as much tar and five times as much carbon monoxide to the lungs. The good news is without nicotine, marijuana is not as addictive as cigarettes. Shovelton and the BLF hope to create a public health campaign to end the myths surrounding the “healthiness” of marijuana, as well as to raise funds for more research in to its potential dangers.

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