Marijuana use and cancer incidence (California, United States)

Cancer Causes Control. 1997 Sep;8(5):722-8. doi: 10.1023/a:1018427320658.


The purpose of this retrospective cohort study was to examine the relationship of marijuana use to cancer incidence. The study population consisted of 64,855 examinees in the Kaiser Permanente multiphasic health checkup in San Francisco and Oakland (California, United States), between 1979-85, aged 15 to 49 years, who completed self-administered questionnaires about smoking habits, including marijuana use. Follow-up for cancer incidence was conducted through 1993 (mean length 8.6 years). Compared with nonusers/experimenters (lifetime use of less than seven times), ever- and current use of marijuana were not associated with increased risk of cancer of all sites (relative risk [RR] = 0.9, 95 percent confidence interval [CI] = 0.7-12 for ever-use in men; RR = 1.0, CI = 0.8-1.1 in women) in analyses adjusted for sociodemographic factors, cigarette smoking, and alcohol use. Marijuana use also was not associated with tobacco-related cancers or with cancer of the following sites: colorectal, lung, melanoma, prostate, breast, cervix. Among nonsmokers of tobacco cigarettes, ever having used marijuana was associated with increased risk of prostate cancer (RR = 3.1, CI = 1.0-9.5) and nearly significantly increased risk of cervical cancer (RR = 1.4, CI = 1.0-2.1). We conclude that, in this relatively young study cohort, marijuana use and cancer were not associated in overall analyses, but that associations in nonsmokers of tobacco cigarettes suggested that marijuana use might affect certain site-specific cancer risks.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • California / epidemiology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Marijuana Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Smoking / epidemiology