Smoking marijuana might have some surprising health benefits

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Smoking Marijuana Might Have Some Surprising Health Benefits

Right now, medical marijuana is commonly used to treat nausea, chronic pain, glaucoma and a range of other issues. But that might not be all that the drug can do. Several studies have uncovered some surprising potential for medicinal pot.

SEE MORE: The dark side of pot you don't always hear about

Now, these benefits are by no means tried and true — there's still a lot of research to be done on the actual benefits of marijuana — but they are ripe for future study.

First up, cancer. Marijuana is already commonly used to alleviate some of the painful symptoms of cancer and chemotherapy, but there's some research suggesting marijuana can actually delay or reduce tumors. THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, has been shown to reduce tumor growth in lab mice and human tissue; researchers believe the chemical triggers certain receptors that prevent tumors from growing.

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Smoking marijuana might have some surprising health benefits
DENVER, CO - APRIL 19: A man exhales marijuana smoke during the High Times Cannabis Cup at the Denver Mart in Denver, Colorado on April 19, 2015. The High Times Cannabis Cup runs through Monday at the Denver Mart. (Photo by Seth McConnell/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - APRIL 19: Kimberly Bullard, 23, of Los Angeles, California takes a hit off a I420 Double Barrel Shotgun pipe during the High Times Cannabis Cup at the Denver Mart in Denver, Colorado on April 19, 2015. The High Times Cannabis Cup runs through Monday at the Denver Mart. (Photo by Seth McConnell/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - APRIL 19: A man raises a lighter and joint to the sky just before 4:20 during the High Times Cannabis Cup at the Denver Mart in Denver, Colorado on April 19, 2015. The High Times Cannabis Cup runs through Monday at the Denver Mart. (Photo by Seth McConnell/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - APRIL 19: A woman sports a marijuana leaf hat during the High Times Cannabis Cup at the Denver Mart in Denver, Colorado on April 19, 2015. The High Times Cannabis Cup runs through Monday at the Denver Mart. (Photo by Seth McConnell/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - APRIL 19: A man takes a selfie as he smokes a joint during the High Times Cannabis Cup at the Denver Mart in Denver, Colorado on April 19, 2015. The High Times Cannabis Cup runs through Monday at the Denver Mart. (Photo by Seth McConnell/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - APRIL 19: Frank Froman takes a hit from the I420 Double Barrel Shotgun pipe by Incredibowl being held by Rolf Johnson, 26, during the High Times Cannabis Cup at the Denver Mart in Denver, Colorado on April 19, 2015. The High Times Cannabis Cup runs through Monday at the Denver Mart. (Photo by Seth McConnell/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - APRIL 19: Smoke rolls off the end of a dab rig during the High Times Cannabis Cup at the Denver Mart in Denver, Colorado on April 19, 2015. The High Times Cannabis Cup runs through Monday at the Denver Mart. (Photo by Seth McConnell/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - APRIL 19: Attendees do dabs during the High Times Cannabis Cup at the Denver Mart in Denver, Colorado on April 19, 2015. The High Times Cannabis Cup runs through Monday at the Denver Mart. (Photo by Seth McConnell/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - APRIL 19: Attendees look over a selection of marijuana themed shirts during the High Times Cannabis Cup at the Denver Mart in Denver, Colorado on April 19, 2015. The High Times Cannabis Cup runs through Monday at the Denver Mart. (Photo by Seth McConnell/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - APRIL 19: Mindie Flores weighs out a gram of Moon Rocks at the Kurrupt's Moon Rocks booth during the High Times Cannabis Cup at the Denver Mart in Denver, Colorado on April 19, 2015. The High Times Cannabis Cup runs through Monday at the Denver Mart. (Photo by Seth McConnell/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - APRIL 19: Shawn Holland, 21, takes a rip off a gas mask bong during the High Times Cannabis Cup at the Denver Mart in Denver, Colorado on April 19, 2015. The High Times Cannabis Cup runs through Monday at the Denver Mart. (Photo by Seth McConnell/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - APRIL 19: Harmony Johnson of Boulder rocks a marijuana leaf hat during Denver's annual 4/20 festival at Civic Center Park on Sunday, April 19, 2015. Thousands of people gathered to watch a free Rick Ross concert, while partaking in the day's goods and services. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - APRIL 19: Shawn Holland, 21, breaks up a piece of marijuana to roll a joint during the High Times Cannabis Cup at the Denver Mart in Denver, Colorado on April 19, 2015. The High Times Cannabis Cup runs through Monday at the Denver Mart. (Photo by Seth McConnell/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - APRIL 19: Shawn Holland, 21, blows on the end of a tulip joint while smoking it during the High Times Cannabis Cup at the Denver Mart in Denver, Colorado on April 19, 2015. The High Times Cannabis Cup runs through Monday at the Denver Mart. (Photo by Seth McConnell/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - APRIL 19: Stephanie Hodge reacts to smoking from a gas mask marijuana smoking apparatus during Denver's annual 4/20 festival at Civic Center Park on Sunday, April 19, 2015. Thousands of people gathered to watch a free Rick Ross concert, while partaking in the day's goods and services. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - APRIL 19: Dakota Wallin of Littleton smokes a half-ounce joint during Denver's annual 4/20 festival at Civic Center Park on Sunday, April 19, 2015. Thousands of people gathered to watch a free Rick Ross concert, while partaking in the day's goods and services. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - APRIL 19: Stephanie Hodge smokes a gas mask marijuana smoking apparatus during Denver's annual 4/20 festival at Civic Center Park on Sunday, April 19, 2015. Thousands of people gathered to watch a free Rick Ross concert, while partaking in the day's goods and services. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - APRIL 19: Kris Custer waves a marijuana leaf flag during Denver's annual 4/20 festival at Civic Center Park on Sunday, April 19, 2015. Thousands of people gathered to watch a free Rick Ross concert, while partaking in the day's goods and services. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Partygoers listen to music and smoke marijuana on one of several days of the annual 4/20 marijuana festival, in Denver's downtown Civic Center Park, Saturday April 18, 2015. The annual event is the second 4/20 marijuana celebration since retail marijuana stores began selling in January 2014. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Partygoers listen to music and smoke marijuana on one of several days of the annual 4/20 marijuana festival, in Denver's downtown Civic Center Park, Saturday April 18, 2015. The annual event is the second 4/20 marijuana celebration since retail marijuana stores began selling in January 2014. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Partygoers listen to music and smoke marijuana on one of several days of the annual 4/20 marijuana festival, in Denver's downtown Civic Center Park, Saturday, April 18, 2015. The annual event is the second 4/20 marijuana celebration since retail marijuana stores began selling in January 2014. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Partygoers listen to music and smoke marijuana on one of several days of the annual 4/20 marijuana festival, in Denver's downtown Civic Center Park, Saturday April 18, 2015. The annual event is the second 4/20 marijuana celebration since retail marijuana stores began selling in January 2014. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
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Second up, the lungs. Despite all the coughing jokes, marijuana isn't linked to lung damage –– in fact, it may improve how lungs function. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found while cigarette smoke damaged lungs, moderate marijuana smokers showed greater lung capacities than non-users. One of the researchers told Time that inhaling deeply when smoking pot could be a sort of exercise that helps expand lung capacity.

SEE MORE: Where the presidential candidates stand on legalizing marijuana

Next, the brain. Marijuana has even been shown in some studies to boost creativity — at least to a degree. British researchers found marijuana increased the verbal fluency of participants who ordinarily tested low for creativity. Verbal fluency is a test where you say as many words as you can beginning with a certain letter.

We should note though, marijuana didn't enhance all types of creativity. For example, it didn't help low-creativity participants in a test asking for as many responses to a named category, like four-legged animals or fruit.


Last but not least: your waistline. In spite of the so-called munchies, evidence shows smoking marijuana is associated with lower rates of obesity and diabetes. And a study published in The American Journal of Medicine found that smokers have smaller waists than non-smokers.

Again, these studies aren't conclusive, and we're not saying you should start smoking. There are plenty of studies detailing the negative effects of marijuana as well. Only now, science is suggesting marijuana isn't all bad as might have been previously believed.

See more special coverage on marijuana:
The dark side of pot you don't always hear about
Where the presidential candidates stand on legalizing marijuana
Support for pot has been changing -- here's a look a legality by state
Surprising ways pot may improve your health

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