Nonsense on "The Doctors"

Mar 11, 2009

junk science, Media, science

One of our members wrote us to report that the March 9 episode of the daytime television show "The Doctors," focusing on illegal drugs, contained a glaring bit of misinformation about marijuana. Here's how our member described it:

At one point, one of the doctors made the statement loud and clear,"To all parents of young boys, make sure you let your boys know that...if they use marijuana they WILL grow boobs!" Then they moved on to another subject.

While we haven't been able to verify a transcript, several commenters on the show's Web site have referred to the issue in similar language, so all indications suggest that our member's report is essentially correct. Unfortunately, the information these alleged experts gave out on national TV is entirely bogus.

There were a few case reports in the early '70s of breast enlargement (gynecomastia) in males who smoked marijuana, but these did not adequately control for other possible causes, and later studies failed to find a connection. A search of the Medline database using the keywords marijuana and gynecomastia turns up only 12 articles, none of which is a controlled study finding a correlation, but one of which is a review that terms the data "contradictory."

We've said it before, but we'll say it again. Lying to kids about drugs is dangerous. When you tell them that smoking marijuana will make boys grow female breasts or turn them into heroin addicts, sooner or later they'll figure out they've been lied to -- and then, understandably, distrust anything you say.

There are plenty of good reasons that kids shouldn't use marijuana or other drugs. And the best way to explain to them is the old-fashioned way: Tell the truth.