Head and neck cancer among marijuana users: a meta-analysis of matched case-control studies

Arch Oral Biol. 2015 Dec;60(12):1750-5. doi: 10.1016/j.archoralbio.2015.09.009. Epub 2015 Sep 15.


Objectives: The scientific literature presents conflicting data on a possible causal relationship between marijuana users and the development of head and neck cancer.

Design: This study performed a systematic review with meta-analysis. Articles were selected from various electronic databases using keywords obtained from the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH). After reading by three reviewers and scoring of methodological quality, six articles (totaling nine case-control studies) were assessed with Comprehensive Meta-Analysis(®) software. The value of effect (odds ratio) was calculated, which represented the chance of developing head and neck cancer between individuals who had smoked marijuana in their lifetime in models controlled for age, gender, race, and tobacco consumption.

Results: Approximately 12.6% of cases and 14.3% of controls were marijuana users. The meta-analysis found no association between exposure and disease (OR=1.021; IC 95%=0.912-1.14; p=0.718).

Conclusion: No association between lifetime marijuana use and the development of head and neck cancer was found. The different methods of collection/presentation of results in the selected articles prevented other analyzes from being conducted. Additional studies are needed to assess for long-term effects.

Keywords: Cannabis sativa; Case–control; Head and neck cancer; Meta-analysis.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Marijuana Smoking*
  • Risk Factors