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Smoking cannabis speeds up cancer risk

Smoking cannabis may suppress the immune system and increase cancer risks, new research suggests.

The drug triggers the production of cells that weaken the body's resistance to cancer, scientists believe.

A US study found that active compounds in cannabis activated biological pathways to generate "massive numbers" of the cells, known as myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs).

MDSCs are special cells that act as a safety brake on the immune system. Cancer patients are known to have increased numbers of MDSCs.

Lead researcher Dr Prakash Nagarkatti said: "These results raise questions on whether increased susceptibility to certain types of cancers or infections caused from smoking marijuana results from induction of MDSCs."