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Endocannabinoid System May Play Role In Maintaining Body's Homeostasis

Thursday, 20 October 2005

Colorado Springs, CO: The endocannabinoid system appears to play a major role in maintaining homeostasis (metabolic equilibrium) in humans and other living organisms, according to a review published in the September issue of the Harm Reduction Journal. Endocannabinoids are chemicals produced naturally in humans and animals that bind to the same receptors as do plant-derived cannabinoids such as THC.

"Endocannabinoids protect [living organisms] by fine-tuning and regulating dynamic biochemical steady states within the ranges required for healthy biological function, [and...] counteract[ing] biochemical imbalances that are characteristic of numerous damaged or diseased states, in particular those associated with aging," according to the review.

Biological functions regulated by endocannabinoids include appetite, body temperature, blood pressure, reproductive activity, learning capacity, and motor coordination.

A separate study published in the current issue of the Harm Reduction Journal speculates that cannabis smoke may be less carcinogenic than tobacco smoke because cannabinoids possess anti-cancer properties.

An epidemiological review published this past summer in the journal Alcohol concluded that the moderate use of cannabis is not associated with an increased risk of tobacco-related cancers, such as lung or colorectal cancer. A 1999 review by the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine found "no conclusive evidence that marijuana causes cancer in humans, including cancers usually related to tobacco use."

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Senior Policy Analyst, at (202) 483-5500. Full text of both studies are available on the Harm Reduction Journal website at: http://www.harmreductionjournal.com/home/