Skip to comments.Marijuana Fights Cancer and Helps Manage Side Effects, Researchers Find
Posted on 09/08/2012 12:51:31 PM PDT by neverdem
Cristina Sanchez, a young biologist at Complutense University in Madrid, was studying cell metabolism when she noticed something peculiar. She had been screening brain cancer cells because they grow faster than normal cell lines and thus are useful for research purposes. But the cancer cells died each time they were exposed to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the principal psychoactive ingredient of marijuana.
Instead of gaining insight into how cells function, Sanchez had stumbled upon the anti-cancer properties of THC. In 1998, she reported in a European biochemistry journal that THC induces apoptosis [cell death] in C6 glioma cells, an aggressive form of brain cancer.
Subsequent peer-reviewed studies in several countries would show that THC and other marijuana-derived compounds, known as cannabinoids, are effective not only for cancer-symptom management (nausea, pain, loss of appetite, fatigue), they also confer a direct antitumoral effect.
A team of Spanish scientists led by Manuel Guzman conducted the first clinical trial assessing the antitumoral action of THC on human beings. Guzman administered pure THC via a catheter into the tumors of nine hospitalized patients with glioblastoma, who had failed to respond to standard brain-cancer therapies. The results were published in 2006 in the British Journal of Pharmacology: THC treatment was associated with significantly reduced tumor cell proliferation in every test subject.
Around the same time, Harvard University scientists ++reported++[ http://www.nature.com/bjc/journal/v95/n2/abs/6603236a.html] that THC slows tumor growth in common lung cancer and significantly reduces the ability of the cancer to spread. Whats more, like a heat-seeking missile, THC selectively targets and destroys tumor cells while leaving healthy cells unscathed. Conventional chemotherapy drugs, by contrast, are highly toxic; they indiscriminately damage the brain and body.
There is mounting evidence, according to a report in Mini-Reviews in Medicinal Chemistry, that cannabinoids represent a new class of anticancer drugs that retard cancer growth, inhibit angiogenesis [the formation of new blood cells that feed a tumor] and the metastatic spreading of cancer cells.
Dr. Sean McAllister, a scientist at the Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, has been studying cannabinoid compounds for 10 years in a quest to develop new therapeutic interventions for various cancers. Backed by grants from the National Institute of Health (and with a license from the DEA), McAllister discovered that cannabidiol (CBD), a nonpsychoactive component of the marijuana plant, is a potent inhibitor of breast cancer cell proliferation, metastasis, and tumor growth.
In 2007, McAllister published a detailed account of how cannabidiol kills breast cancer cells and destroys malignant tumors by switching off expression of the ID-1 gene, a protein that appears to play a major role as a cancer cell conductor.
The ID-1 gene is active during human embryonic development, after which it turns off and stays off. But in breast cancer and several other types of metastatic cancer, the ID-1 gene becomes active again, causing malignant cells to invade and metastasize. Dozens of aggressive cancers express this gene, explains McAllister. He postulates that CBD, by virtue of its ability to silence ID-1 expression, could be a breakthrough anti-cancer medication.
Cannabidiol offers hope of a non-toxic therapy that could treat aggressive forms of cancer without any of the painful side effects of chemotherapy, says McAllister, who is seeking support to conduct clinical trials with the marijuana compound on breast cancer patients.
McAllisters lab also is analyzing how CBD works in combination with first-line chemotherapy agents. His research shows that cannabidiol, a potent antitumoral compound in its own right, acts synergistically with various anti-cancer pharmaceuticals, enhancing their impact while cutting the toxic dosage necessary for maximum effect.
Cannabidiol offers hope of a non-toxic therapy that could treat aggressive forms of cancer without any of the painful side effects of chemotherapy.
Investigators at St. Georges University in London observed a similar pattern with THC, which magnified the effectiveness of conventional antileukemia therapies in preclinical studies. THC and cannabidiol both induce apoptosis in leukemic cell lines.
At the annual summer conference of the International Cannabinoid Research Society, held this year in Freiburg, Germany, 300 scientists from around the world discussed their latest findings, which are pointing the way toward novel treatment strategies for cancer and other degenerative diseases. Italian investigators described CBD as the most efficacious inducer of apoptosis in prostate cancer. Ditto for cannabidiol and colon cancer, according to British researchers at Lancaster University.
Within the medical science community, the discovery that cannabinoids have anti-tumoral properties is increasingly recognized as a seminal advancement in cancer therapeutics.
Martin A. Lee is the author of Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana Medical, Recreational and Scientific (Scribner, August 2012). He is the cofounder of the media watch group FAIR, director of Project CBD, and the author of Acid Dreams and The Beast Reawakens. For more information and regular updates, follow Smoke Signalsthe book on Facebook.
Bunk. The cops at the DEA know better and they say it has no medical use. Period. End of story.
So the Choom Gang is cancer-free?
As a person who has known several close relatives/friends who died of and survived cancer, I can say the effects are positive. Marijuana helps with the chemo sickness and weight loss. For those with terminal cancer, then addiction will not be a problem is it? They’re dying and only the most obtuse uncaring person would deny them whatever relief they can get. Marijuana does not have the side effects of powerful pain relievers where you don’t know what day it is or whom your family are. The positives outweigh the negatives.
It has been known for decades that cannabis helps ease the side effects of chemo, the other information is interesting.
Researchers also announced man is the cause of global warming, milk causes cancer and it takes a village to raise a child.... are we picking and choosing which researcher we believe?
Maryjane isn’t addictive. I quit smoking the stuff thirty years ago and never missed it.
Your immune system gets the munchies and eats the cancer cells.
Take a THC pill then.
There are 1000 chemicals in marijuana and I am sure that smoke in the lungs is so healthy.
Why not just eat the pot?
It must be addictive in some way, I know many people that have been unable to give it up although it was illegal, people who have broken drug laws for 45 years, people who have lost their military careers because they needed it and could not stop.
A lot of the people here who are on the surface, law-abiding conservatives, who need clean records to live, will admit that they continue to use, decade after decade, close call, after close call, risk, after risk.
They are not ‘addicted’, yet they can’t stop, no matter the cost or what things that they must do outside of the law to stay supplied, even when traveling, and the horrors of the beheading, fish hook hanging in national parks, drug lords that they support does not overcome that need.
Addiction is a weird thing. I know a guy who couldn't give up running. He had to have his "fix" every day, rain or shine. He kept at it even after his doctor told him he was destroying his knees, until he finally did.
And then there are those like me who can take it or leave it (and do for years at a time), have never had any "close calls" and have taken no discernible risks.
I know a cancer patient/survivor and according to her she uses a fairly sophisticated vaporizer, where there is virtually no smoke and screens out much of that stuff.
It’s hard to swallow a pill and keep it down when your problem is severe nausea.
so why is the actual pill which is ALREADY available. Potheads use this outlyer to justify recreational use.
If this was a legit actual proven medical use there is no need for pothead stores with a pretext. Doctors would perscribe it and it would be purchased at the pharmacy. (and there would be automatic license suspensions for those thus perscribed)