The Long Term Effects Of Marijuana Essay — страница 2
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those seen after long-term use of other major drugs of abuse (Erickson 89). Findings so far show that regular use of marijuana may play a role in some kinds of cancer. It’s hard to know for sure whether regular marijuana use causes cancer, but it is known that marijuana contains some of the same, and sometimes even more, of the cancer-causing chemicals found in tobacco (Donald 132). Studies show that a person who smokes five joints per week may be taking in as many cancer-causing chemicals as someone who smokes a full pack of cigarettes every day. A breakthrough in 1996 by the American Cancer Foundation found that a lung cancer-causing carcinogen (benzopyrene), found in tobacco is more prevalent in marijuana. This chemical causes genetic damage in lung cells that is identical to the damage observed in the DNA of most malignant tumors of the lungs that are caused by regular tobacco smoking (Zhu and Sharma 207). Although scientists have been convinced in the past that smoking causes lung cancer, the strong statistical associations did not provide absolute proof. This paper by the ACF pinpoints that mutations in lung cancer cells are caused by benzopyrene. This potent carcinogen suppresses a gene that controls growth of cells. When this gene is damaged, the body becomes more susceptible to cancer. This gene is related to half of all human cancers and as many as 70% of lung cancers (Donald 134). Clearly marijuana smoke contains more of the potent carcinogen benzopyrene than tobacco smoke. Furthermore, the technique of smoking marijuana by inhaling deeply and holding the smoke within the lungs gives the lungs much greater exposure to this toxic carcinogen than a regular tobacco cigarette. The obvious conclusion from this information is that smoking marijuana on a regular basis poses a very high risk to lung cancer. It has been proved that marijuana has a negative effect on the immune system, weakening it and thus causing a person be much more vulnerable to disease (Carter 160). Animal studies have found that marijuana smoke can damage the cells and tissues in the body that help protect a person from disease (Carter 160). When the immune cells are weakened, you are more likely to get sick. Alveolar macrophages (essentially white blood cells whose purpose is to engulf any bacteria or fungi that get into the lung) in the lungs of healthy, chronic marijuana smokers were suppressed in their ability to kill bacterial organisms, as well as tumor cells (Zhu and Sharma 220). These findings suggest that marijuana is an immunosuppressant. For chronic users, THC causes enlargement of the area between nerve cells, resulting in poor transmission of nerve impulses between these cells. This ?tampering? has several effects on the nervous system including: difficulty in comprehending complex ideas, loss of memory, irregular sleep habits, insomnia, decrease in muscle strength and blurred vision. (Zhu and Sharma 243-244) There is not a lot of information available of the evidence for the harmful consequences of marijuana smoking, as there have not been many long-term studies, which is required. Habitual marijuana use, as often as one joint per day, may result in serious pulmonary, immune and psychological consequences. With chronic use, breathing may be restricted, coughing may be increased, and resistance may be lowered to infections of the lungs such as pneumonia (Bloom 45). Respiratory cancer is a likely result in the long term. Although it?s popular to believe that there are no really harmful effects on human health, and that marijuana is just a temporary, ?soft drug?, heavier use of marijuana is likely to have more potent, adverse health consequences in the long term.