Tommy Chong Diagnosed With Prostate Cancer

By Amir Khan on June 11, 2012 9:49 AM EDT

Tommy Chong
Tommy Chong, best known as part of the pot-smoking duo "Cheech and Chong" announced on Saturday that he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer (Photo: Creative Commons)

Tommy Chong, best known as part of the pot-smoking duo "Cheech and Chong" announced on Saturday that he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, according to CNN, and said medicinal marijuana is the cure to his ails.

"I've got prostate cancer, and I'm treating it with hemp oil, with cannabis," he told CNN. "So (legalizing marijuana) means a lot more to me than just being able to smoke a joint without being arrested."   

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Chong said he first noticed symptoms eight years ago when he was incarcerated for selling drug paraphernalia, and that he was officially diagnosed approximately a month ago. He stressed that he was not using marijuana when he was diagnosed, and that marijuana was the cure, not the problem, in regards to his cancer.

Symptoms of prostate cancer include trouble urinating, decreased force in the stream of urine, blood in the urine, bone pain and swelling in the legs, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Aside from skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men -- more than 250,000 men will be diagnosed with the condition in 2012, according to the American Cancer Society. Most men diagnosed don't die from prostate cancer and treatment side effects are so common doctors often advise men with slow-growing tumors not to undergo treatment.

Prostate cancer is typically treated with tumor-removing surgery or radiation, but about 90 percent of men who undergo prostate cancer treatments experience sexual dysfunction and 30 percent have urinary incontinence, according to the American Cancer Society.

Chong also said he no longer smokes marijuana, but instead takes hemp oil daily to avoid the wooziness. However, many doctors do not agree with his claims.

"'There is little doubt that cannabis now may play some non-curative roles in the treatment of this disease (or diseases) because it is often useful to cancer patients who suffer from nausea, anorexia depression, anxiety, pain, and insomnia," Dr. Lester Grinspoon, associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and medical marijuana advocate, told the Daily Mail. "However, while there is growing evidence from animal studies that it may shrink tumor cells and cause other promising salutary effects in some cancers, there is no present evidence that it cures any of the many different types of cancer."

Grispoon also said that many people erroneously flock to alternative treatments for cancer when traditional treatments would be a better option.

"There are patients who have a medically sound diagnosis of pre-symptomatic cancer (such as early prostate cancer) but who, for one reason or another, eschew allopathic treatment and desperately seek out other approaches," he said. "Such patients are all too eager to believe that a new treatment, such as hemp-oil medicine, has cured their cancer."

Chong, however, maintains that marijuana and hemp oil are effective at treating his illness.

"I'm taking it as a medicine," he told CNN. 

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