Skip to Content

Cannabis Suppresses Immune System and Makes Users More Susceptible to Cancer


A team of immunologists who were studying the effects of cannabis have discovered how smoking marijuana can trigger a suppression of how the body's immune system functions. The research, published in the European Journal of Immunology, reveals why cannabis users are more susceptible to certain types of cancers and infections.

Dr Prakash Nagarkatti Clinical Findings

"Cannabis is one of the most widely used drugs of abuse worldwide and it is already believed to suppress immune functions making the user more susceptible to infections and some types of cancer," said Dr Nagarkatti. "We believe the key to this suppression is a unique type of immune cell, which has only recently been identified by immunologists, called myeloid-derived suppressor cells, MDSCs." His team discovered after the research that MDSCs through activation of cannabinoid receptors trigger the activation of the cells.


"Marijuana cannabinoids present us with a double edged sword," concluded Dr Nagarkatti. "On one hand, due to their immunosuppressive nature, they can cause increased susceptibility to cancer and infections. However, further research of these compounds could provide opportunities to treat a large number of clinical disorders where suppressing the immune response is actually beneficial."