Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is an ingredient associated with cannabis that makes users feel "high". Now, researchers of a new study warn it can accelerate cancer growth when it enters the bloodstream in those living with human papillomavirus (HPV)-positive head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. The study was conducted by a team from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine.
“HPV-related head and neck cancer is one of the fastest growing cancers in the United States. While at the same time, exposure to marijuana is accelerating. This is a huge public health problem,” Joseph A. Califano III, MD, senior author and professor and vice chief of the Division of Otolaryngology in the Department of Surgery at UC San Diego School of Medicine, told a news portal.
This form of cancer is the sixth most common type across the globe. According to the study, this type of cancer "begin in the cells that line the mucous membranes inside the mouth, nose and throat". 30 per cent of such cases are reportedly due to HPV infection. Researchers of the study speculate the rise in marijuana use may be the reason many are developing the disease. Some studies have also found an association between marijuana use and the development of HPV-related throat cancer.
“We now have convincing scientific evidence that daily marijuana use can drive tumor growth in HPV-related head and neck cancer,” Califano told a news portal. Adding, “Marijuana and other cannabis products are often considered benign, but it is important to note that all drugs that have benefits can also have drawbacks. This is a cautionary tale.”
A study, published in theJournal of Molecular Diagnostics, reported a saliva test could potentially help detect mouth and throat cancer at an early stage. "OPC [ oropharyngeal cancers] has an approximate incidence of 115,000 cases per year worldwide and is one of the fastest-rising cancers in Western countries due to increasing HPV-related incidence, especially in younger patients. It is paramount that surveillance methods are developed to improve early detection and outcomes," study co-author Tony Jun Huang, PhD, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, Duke University, Durham, NC, US, told a news portal.
Adding, "Considering these factors, the successful detection of HPV from salivary exosomes isolated by our acoustofluidic platform offers distinct advantages, including early detection, risk assessment, and screening."
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