Cancer and Cannabis: The Real Facts
There are tons of studies looking at the plant’s ability to treat cancer. It may be the most studied aspect of cannabis.
Last year, Israeli researchers announced that several weed extracts showed promise of fighting cancer. The research looked at 12 types of cancers and how different cannabis extracts impacted those cells. Although some of the extracts showed little or no effect on the growth of cancer cells, three (out of 12) showed a 37 to 51 percent reduction in tumor size. Extracts high in THC appear to be the most promising anti-cancer formulations.
A 2013 study found that when combinations of cannabinoids are used together, they can synergistically inhibit the growth of leukemia cells. Research published in 2006 also indicated that cannabinoids can hinder the growth and spread of pancreatic cancer in animals.
An Italian study in 2011 looked at mice with colon cancer and found that CBD reduced polyps and tumors, and protected DNA from getting damaged by oxidation. In a 2015 study, CBD was also found to inhibit tumor growth in triple-negative breast cancer, one of the most aggressive forms of the disease.
And, in 2014, research demonstrated that THC and CBD could stop the growth of cells in glioma, one of the most aggressive forms of brain cancer. It's worth noting that cannabinoids were particularly effective when combined with traditional radiation therapy treatments.
European research published in 2013 found that anandamide, the endocannabinoid analogous to THC, inhibited the growth of tumors in patients with melanoma, an aggressive form of skin cancer. Along with ingesting it, topical application is the best way to treat various forms of skin cancer.
Then, in 2015, an analysis of nearly 85,000 medical records revealed that weed use was associated with a 45-percent reduction in bladder cancer. This analysis only looked at men's medical records, however. Moreover, a Spanish study published in 2009 found that a synthetic activator of the CB2 receptor stopped the growth of prostate cancer cells in mice.
So, we know that cannabis can be effective at fighting cancer cells and tumors. But, let us not forget another well-known benefit of weed for cancer patients: Its ability to relieve nausea and vomiting, two debilitating side effects of chemotherapy. It can also help stimulate cancer patients’ appetites, allowing them to eat food and restore their vitality.
Apoptosis is a natural process in the body where the cells are destroyed as part of a particular organism?s growth. As mentioned, cancer cells grow as an abnormal process in the body because they no longer acknowledge the body?s signals that encourage or destroy cell growth.
As these cells grow and divide, they become more uncontrollable. And since they no longer respond to apoptosis, they tend to expedite cell proliferation and ignore the other signals from ?normal cells.? That is why the endocannabinoid system is an extremely important system in the body because it also helps in modulating cell growth and death.
As cancer cells reproduce faster than the endocannabinoid system can handle, the cancer cells invade through the normal tissues and spread throughout the body. This process is called metastasis.
The endocannabinoid system has two primary receptors. One is the CB1 receptors which are mostly found in the brain, and the other one is the CB2 receptors which are primarily found in the immune system.
THC is the active compound in cannabis that binds to the CB1 receptors and is responsible for mood, behavior, and other cerebral functions. On the other hand, CBD latches onto the CB2 receptors and tells these receptors if there are ?invaders? that are detrimental to the body.
The apoptotic process by these receptors is achieved through the de novo synthesis of ceramide and sphingolipid that promote cell destruction.
Once they bind together, the receptor activation can then help the endocannabinoid system in signaling an antitumorigenic warning. Which means, it impairs cancer development through inhibiting reproduction, metastasis, and tumor angiogenesis.
Although further studies have yet to be reviewed to prove these claims, the cannabinoids in cannabis oil have undeniably helped cancer patients one way or another. Chemotherapy patients have also turned to cannabis oil for alleviating their post-chemo side effects such as nausea, vomiting, fatigue, inflammation, neuropathic pain, immune suppression, and loss of appetite.