According to work carried out on 8,999 patients, patients with lung cancer who have or consume cannabis are on average 53 years old at the time of diagnosis. Against 65 years among tobacco users.
Gathered from January 27 to 29 in Marseille, the 27th Congress of French-speaking pneumology highlighted the role played by cannabis in the appearance of early lung cancer. A worrying phenomenon, when it is the most widespread illicit drug in the population, and that 10.6% of French people consumed it in 2021, according to a study by the French Observatory of Drugs and Drug Addiction .
The figures put forward by the KBP-2020-CPHG study, which is based on 8,999 patients diagnosed with lung cancer in 2020, are final.
6% additional risk
“When we consume cannabis, the average age of diagnosis of lung cancer is 53 years old, 65 years old among tobacco users alone, and 72 years old among non-smokers”, explains to BFMTV.com Doctor Didier Debieuvre, pulmonologist at the Emile Muller hospital center in Mulhouse and coordinator of the study.
“Cannabis users represent 3.6% of all 9,000 patients studied. But this figure rises to 28.3% if we focus only on patients under the age of 50”, continues the specialist.
In conclusion, the study indicates that a French person under the age of 50 exposes himself to a 6% additional risk of developing lung cancer if he consumes cannabis.
The risk of smoking without a filter?
These data go against a received idea, often put forward by cannabis consumers, who would like the drug to be less harmful than tobacco, because it is less industrially processed.
“For cannabis, we have been questioning patients for years. We saw a lot of ‘young people’, and we were sure that they did not only smoke tobacco”, explains Didier Debieuvre.
A finding that motivated his desire to question the consumption of cannabis in patients studied for the KBP-2020-CPHG study, which every 10 years draws up a photograph of lung cancer in France.
The reasons that may explain this early onset of the disease among cannabis users remain to be determined. “Tobacco smokers smoke their cigarettes with a filter, cannabis smokers inhale their joints without a filter. It is likely that the absence of a filter increases the risk”, advances Didier Debieuvre, who specifies that the patients for the most part have a heavy cannabis use, three to four times a day.
An increasing life expectancy
The data unveiled at the Congress this weekend goes against the current classification, which does not consider cannabis to be a carcinogen. “The data in the scientific literature are contradictory”, recognizes Didier Debieuvre. In particular because cannabis consumers also consume tobacco, making it difficult to conduct studies focusing exclusively on the dangerousness of cannabis.
But as the Canadian Cancer Society explains on its website, “It is possible that cannabis use increases the risk of cancer. Why? Cannabis contains many substances that are also found in smoke tobacco and cause cancer”.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among men in France. And should also soon become so in women, surpassing breast cancer, predicts Dr. Debieuvre.
Despite this sad observation, a positive point was raised last weekend in the KBP-2020-CPHG study. Patient survival is improving in France. In 2000, the two-year mortality of patients was 79%. It rose to 52% in 2020.
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