Actor Tommy Chong (of the infamous pot-smoking comedy duo, Cheech and Chong) says he’s treating stage 1 prostate cancer with cannabis, emphasizing the treatment plan as a strong reason to legalize the drug. We’re all for treating your symptoms with pot if it works for you, but the articles about Chong’s condition are rife with inaccuracies and confusing info. Talk to your doctor if you’re interested in alternative therapies–not Chong.
Chong told CNN:
I’ve got prostate cancer, and I’m treating it with hemp oil, with cannabis. So (legalizing marijuana) means a lot more to me than just being able to smoke a joint without being arrested.
But Chong says he doesn’t smoke marijuana, having quit a year ago “for health reasons,” but ingests hemp oil “at night, so I won’t be woozy all day.”
“I’m taking it as a medicine,” he said. Chong said his cancer is “a slow stage one (that I’ve) had for a long time,” but says he was drug free for three years before having prostate-related health problems. “So I know it had nothing to do with cannabis,” he explained. “Cannabis is a cure.”
Here’s the thing: Whether you’re smoking pot or guzzling hemp oil, cannabis hasn’t been proven to treat cancer—just the symptoms.
But even that info has been bungled in some of the coverage of Chong’s treatment. One doctor told ABC News that cannabis is the best treatment option for some of cancer’s side effects:
There are no other drugs that work as well as cannabis for treating the nausea and anorexia associated with cancer and its treatments, Dr. Donna Seger, associate professor of clinical medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tenn., told ABC News in March.
Cancer and chemotherapy can cause loss of appetite, it’s true—cachexia is the clinical term for the loss of appetite, malnutrition, and loss of body weight associated with certain types of cancers. Anorexia, on the other hand, is excessive calorie restriction tied with psychological disorders.
At least one doctor has spoken out against Chong’s misinformation: Dr. Leonard G. Gomella, chairman of the department of urology at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, told ABC that this isn’t effective advice for other prostate cancer patients:
As a comedian, this is a really funny skit. As a public figure who can get a forum, it is irresponsible. Had he been suffering from widely metastatic disease with bone pain and other devastations, perhaps there may be a role, but not for early disease.
So…stick with Chong for the laughs; visit a real doctor for treatment options.