Medical Marijuana and Cancer

Overview of CancerCancer therapy word cloud

Cancer occurs as the result of the growth of abnormal cells in your body. They say that everyone is born with some cancer cells, but in some individuals, the cells multiply and grow rapidly. When this happens they overtake the healthy cells and develop into masses or tumors that can cause illness and death. Some forms of cancer can be cured with chemotherapy, radiation or removal of the cancerous area if caught early.

There are various types of cancer. While we tend to describe them by the part of the body they effect, such as lung cancer, stomach cancer, brain tumor, etc., they are generally described in the following medical terms:

• Carcinoma – Accounting for 80% to 90% of all cancers, carcinoma is found in the tissues that line our glands, organs or body structures. Carcinoma often affects bodily organs or glands that involve secretions such as breasts.
• Sarcoma – Sarcoma is a malignant tumor stemming from connecting tissues. It’s most commonly found as a bone tumor, typically in young adults.
• Lymphoma – Lymphoma is a cancer originating from the lymph nodes or glands or in specific organs like the breasts or the brain.
• Leukemia – Leukemia, a cancer of the bone marrow, is also known as blood cancer. There are several types of leukemia, such as chronic lymphocytic leukemia, acute myelogenous leukemia, acute lymphocytic leukemia and chronic myelogenous leukemia.
• Myeloma – Myeloma develops in the plasma cells of the bone marrow. The cells may start in a bone and develop into a single tumor.

Symptoms of Cancer

While cancer often seems to come out of nowhere, knowing what symptoms may be problematic and indicative of cancer can help the patient seek early treatment. Although some types of cancer do not have symptoms, here are some symptoms that may be experienced by cancer patients.

• Anemia
• Bruising
• Persistent weakness and/or fatigue
• Pain in bones and joints
• Swollen lymph nodes
• Chest pains
• Breathing difficulties
• Coughs that don’t seem to go away
• Loss of weight
• Loss of appetite

Use of Medical Marijuana/Cannabis as an Alternative Treatment for Cancer

The human body produces endocannabinoids, which play an important role in keeping our bodies healthy. One way they do this is by generating and regenerating our immune systems, which is what prevents us from getting sick. Cannabis contains various cannabinoids; cannabidiol (CBD) is just one of more than 85 cannabinoids that can be found in cannabis. When used with cancer patients, CBD acts as a sedative, while also increasing alertness, unlike common prescription drugs.

Additionally, studies have indicated that CBD reduces the growth in breast cancers and also reduces the cancer’s invasiveness. Cannabis, in general, is known to actually shrink cancerous tumors. In addition to being used as a treatment for cancer, medical marijuana is often used to help some of the symptoms of cancer, such as nausea and pain. One of the major side effects of chemotherapy is vomiting and nausea. Cancer patients on medical marijuana don’t generally experience these side effects.

Benefits of Using Medical Marijuana As Alternatives to Prescription Drugs

We often hear of cancer patients who refuse treatment because they want to feel as normal as possible during their last days rather than feeling drugged, tired, in pain and nauseous. While it may be the cancer causing the pain, it’s generally the prescription drugs that are causing the other discomfort. Prescription drugs used in cancer patients often make the patient drowsy, tired and nauseous. Additionally, the patient is at high risk of becoming addicted to these drugs. Cancer patients can get relief through medical marijuana without experiencing all the unpleasant side effects of prescription drugs.

Marijuana Fights Cancer and Helps Manage Side Effects, Researchers Find

Mounting evidence shows ‘cannabinoids’ in marijuana slow cancer growth, inhibit formation of new blood cells that feed a tumor, and help manage pain, fatigue, nausea, and other side effects.

Clinical Trials, Studies and Publications:

Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) induces apoptosis in C6 glioma cells

Pathways mediating the effects of cannabidiol on the reduction of breast cancer cell proliferation, invasion, and metastasis

Cannabidiol as a novel inhibitor of Id-1 gene expression in aggressive breast cancer cells

Cannabidiol inhibits cancer cell invasion via upregulation of tissue inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinases-1.

 

Cannabis and Cannabinoids (PDQ®) National Cancer Institute – Questions and Answers About Cannabis

Clinical Trials, Studies and Publications:

 

Cannabinoids: potential anti-tumour agents

Abstract

Various reports have shown that cannabinoids (the active components of marijuana and their derivatives) can reduce tumour growth and progression in animal models of cancer, in addition to their well-known palliative effects on some cancer-associated symptoms. This Opinion article discusses our current understanding of cannabinoids as antitumour agents, focusing on recent insights into the molecular mechanisms of action, including emerging resistance mechanisms and opportunities for combination therapy approaches. Such knowledge is required for the optimization of preclinical cannabinoid-based therapies and for the preliminary clinical testing that is currently underway.

Clinical Trials, Studies and Publications: