Bladder cancer accounts for about five percent of all new cancer diagnoses in the US each year and kills more than 16,000 of us annually. As with most cancers, the greatest risk factor is in your genetic history, but aging and cigarette smoking dramatically increase your risk of getting the disease. So does being a white guy: The white part doubles your risk over African Americans and the dude part can quadruple your odds compared to the ladies.
So, if you’re a black woman, consider yourself excused from today’s class.
For those of you still reading, you might have noticed how we qualified one of the risk factors above: cigarette smoking. From a general medical perspective, it’s not a good idea to smoke anything. Period. But, at least in this one context, smoking cannabis might be a positive good: It’s been shown to correlate with lower rates of bladder cancer. Not just compared with tobacco smokers, but even non-smokers.
That was the surprise announcement from Dr. Anil Thomas, addressing the 2013 annual meeting of the American Urological Association. It also appears a report published in the February 2015 issue of Urology.
Running an analysis of a database of California men aged 45 to 69, Dr. Thomas and his team of researchers at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center found that cannabis smokers were 45 percent less likely to be diagnosed with bladder cancer than patients that did not smoke at all.
As expected, tobacco smoking in this cohort increased the odds of developing bladder cancer. But here’s another cool part: According to Dr.Thomas, “Those using both cannabis and tobacco seemed to negate these effects with a smaller increase in their incidence of bladder cancer.”
So here’s our takeaway: If you smoke cigarettes—especially if you are, or plan on becoming, an old white guy—then you owe it to yourself to start smoking cannabis, too. Just like heads, two vices can be better than one!