National Survey Data Suggests Potential Protective Association Between Marijuana Use and Prostate Cancer Risk

by Marijuana Staff

In a recent cross-sectional analysis utilising the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) data from 2002-2020, the research team found that marijuana use may be associated with reduced prevalence of prostate cancer among men in the United States. This study adds to the growing body of evidence suggesting anticancer properties of cannabinoids that warrants further investigation.

The analysis included 2,503 male participants aged 50 and older who responded to the NSDUH survey. They found that 31.7% of current marijuana users and 31.6% of former users self-reported a prostate cancer diagnosis, compared to 39.9% of those who never used marijuana (p<0.001). This difference remained significant even after controlling for potential confounders like age, race, tobacco and alcohol use.

Importantly, the inverse association between marijuana use and prostate cancer prevalence was particularly pronounced among non-Hispanic white participants aged 65 and older. In this subgroup, only 28.9% of marijuana users reported a prostate cancer diagnosis versus 38.3% of non-users (p<0.001). While limited by small sample sizes, the trends were consistent across racial/ethnic groups.

Our multivariable logistic regression analysis reinforced these findings. Former marijuana users had 26% lower odds of self-reported prostate cancer compared to never-users (OR=0.74, 95% CI 0.62-0.90, p=0.001). The odds ratio for current users also trended towards reduced risk, though it did not reach statistical significance, likely due to the relatively small number of current users.

These epidemiological findings align with preclinical data demonstrating anti-tumour effects of cannabinoids in prostate cancer cell lines and animal models. Proposed mechanisms include regulation of the cell cycle, induction of apoptosis and autophagy, and inhibition of tumor invasion, angiogenesis and metastasis. While retrospective studies are inherently limited, our analysis of this large national dataset provides additional population-level human evidence warranting further investigation.

As policymakers evaluate regulations around cannabinoids, these data highlighting potential anticancer associations should be carefully considered. Crucially, we call for higher-quality prospective studies and clinical trials examining the preventive and therapeutic applications of cannabinoids, including specific synthetic analogs and dosing regimens, against prostate cancer and other malignancies. Responsible facilitation of this research would allow us to better understand and optimise the immense but still largely untapped therapeutic potential of this class of compounds.

Study link.

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