Saturday, June 20, 2009

Incorrect Hypothesis

Scientists are all the time trying to figure out how the world works (it is their job after all). So they think about things that interest them and imagine how they work. Then they develop a rule, called a hypothesis, to match their imaginings. Then they test the rule against the real world. Some times things don't come out the way they were imagined.

"We hypothesized that there would be a positive association between marijuana use and lung cancer, and that the association would be more positive with heavier use," he said. "What we found instead was no association at all, and even a suggestion of some protective effect."
It wouldn't be the first time such an effect was found.
The term medical marijuana took on dramatic new meaning in February 2000, when researchers in Madrid announced they had destroyed incurable brain tumors in rats by injecting them with THC, the active ingredient in cannabis. This report shows the medicinal value of marijuana and cancer treatment.

The Madrid study marks only the second time that THC has been administered to tumor-bearing animals. In 1974, researchers at the Medical College of Virginia, who had been funded by the National Institutes of Health to find evidence that marijuana damages the immune system, found instead the medicinal value of marijuana and cancer treatment. THC slowed the growth of three kinds of cancer in mice — lung and breast cancer, and a virus-induced leukemia.
And with some new research out we are actually getting into the details of what has so far only been a statistical connection. Researchers have recently made headway into figuring out how it works. The title of the piece is Cannabinoid action induces autophagy-mediated cell death through stimulation of ER stress in human glioma cells. Here is a bit from the abstract:
Autophagy can promote cell survival or cell death, but the molecular basis underlying its dual role in cancer remains obscure. Here we demonstrate that Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main active component of marijuana, induces human glioma cell death through stimulation of autophagy.
They go on for pages with all that medical stuff. Not my area of expertise. So let me just say that THC kills cancer cells.

I look forward to the day when government controls medicine and requires people to smoke pot to prevent lung cancer. Perhaps they will go so far as to jail people with a negative drug test.

OK. So what is the bottom line here? In 1976 Gerald Ford forbade the US Government's sponsorship of any public research on marijuana and its effect on cancer. Can you imagine where we would be now if he had promoted such research? Prejudice kills. Think of all those cancer patients who have been victims of prejudice and didn't even know it.

H/T Drug Policy Forum of Texas

Cross Posted at Classical Values

1 comment:

Robert said...

Oh, that's silly. Those experiments were no good. They didn't prove what they were expected to prove!