Cannabis use and cancer of the head and neck: Case-control study

Sarah Aldington, Matire Harwood, Brian Cox, Mark Weatherall, Lutz Beckert, Anna Hansell, Alison Pritchard, Geoffrey Robinson, Richard Beasley*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To investigate whether cannabis smoking increases the risk of head and neck cancer. Design: Case-control study. Subjects and Methods: Cases of head and neck cancer ≤55 years identified from hospital databases and the Cancer Registry, and controls randomly selected from the electoral roll completed interviewer-administered questionnaires. Logistic regression was used to estimate the relative risk of head and neck cancer. Results: There were 75 cases and 319 controls. An increased risk of cancer was found with increasing tobacco use, alcohol consumption, and decreased income but not increasing cannabis use. The highest tertile of cannabis use (>8.3 joint years) was associated with a nonsignificant increased risk of cancer (relative risk = 1.6, 95% confidence interval, 0.5-5.2) after adjustment for confounding variables. Conclusions: Cannabis use did not increase the risk of head and neck cancer; however, because of the limited power and duration of use studied, a small or longer-term effect cannot be excluded.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)374-380
Number of pages7
JournalOtolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Supported by The New Zealand Ministry of Health, The Hawke's Bay Medical Research Foundation, and GlaxoSmithKline (UK). Associate Professor Brian Cox was funded by the Director's Cancer Research Trust. Dr Anna Hansell is a Wellcome Trust Intermediate Clinical Fellow supported by Grant Number 075883.


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