Banished from medicine due to its psychoactive properties, cannabis is now making its way into clinical practice as more scientific evidence supporting its efficacy as part of treatment of various health problems is being accumulated. Surprisingly, one of the areas in which it turned out to be effective is treatment of various cancer forms.
CBD and THC have recently been researched extensively, and the fruit this research bore is that of multiple therapeutic effects, ranging from anxiety relief to slowing down neurodegenerative diseases.
However, it is the research into the effects of cannabis components on cancer cells that takes us into uncharted waters. Is there scientific evidence showing its effectiveness at killing cancer? Is it safe to use these chemicals to fight off the disease? Are there many cancer forms that cannabis can affect? Many questions remain unanswered, but there are studies in favor of cannabis use in such patients.
A team of scientists at the Complutense University demonstrated that THC, the chemical that is to blame for cannabis’s psychoactive effect, is capable of inhibiting tumor growth by interfering with cancer cell proliferation. The chemical was administered to 9 patients, and 2 of them responded to treatment well: their tumor growth was halted.
Another piece of evidence came from Italy, when scientists from the University of Milan reported that cannabidiol, a chemical devoid of psychoactive effects, has significant antitumor properties. Using glioma cell lines, they showed that cannabidiol can be used as an antineoplastic agent.
Spanish scientists contributed to the research into the issue of pancreatic cancer treatment by finding that cannabinoids can trigger apoptosis of cancer cells in the pancreas.
The ability of CBD to halt cancer cell proliferation and prevent a tumor from invading other tissues was also observed by scientists from California Pacific Medical Center, who used cannabidiol in two models of metastatic breast cancer. As a result of the experimental treatment, tumor mass was reduced, and metastases in the lungs also became smaller in size and number.
Their findings are echoed in a 2006 work by Italian researchers who reported similar results: in their study, cannabidiol successfully slowed down the growth of breast cancer tumors.
A 2016 study confirmed the previously discovered properties of CBD and added an important piece of information about CBD effects: it can inhibit angiogenesis, which means blood vessels are not formed to supply a tumor with the nutrients it needs badly.
Mouse and lab studies showed that THC can help treat non-small cell lung cancer by significantly impeding tumor growth and interfering with metastatic spread.
Later findings turned out to be consistent with what had been found out about the antitumor effects of CBD: a team of scientists from University of Rostock observed similar effects of cancer cell invasion inhibition in lung cancer patients. More recent studies back these results.
The list above is not comprehensive, as the properties described above were also confirmed in studies revolving around the problem of treatment of such cancer forms as liver cancer, prostate cancer, leukemia, colon cancer, oral cancer, etc. Besides, cannabis is already being used to prevent the development of symptoms associated with chemotherapy.
From the links provided above, it is clear that CBD appears to be a potent agent which can help advance methods of cancer treatment. THC can also have beneficial effects, but its psychoactive effect makes it less preferable, compared to CBD.