There are a number of studies from around the world aimed at investigating the potential use of cannabis in modern medicine. One of the main areas of study is the connection between cannabis and cancer. This area splits into two main fields: how marijuana can treat symptoms and how it can treat the cancer itself. We decided to take a look at both areas since they are of equal importance to those suffering from this all too common disease. Gathering four academic studies that target common cancers in America: breast, lung, prostate and pancreatic, we'll explore the research and validity of marijuana as a treatment and even a cure. While there are a number of studies focused on cannabis and cancer, these are some of the most impactful—we recommend giving them a read.
The development of lung cancer is normally attributed to smoking cigarettes. It’s a cancer that plagues many individuals around the world. A study published by the US National Library of Medicine found that cannabinoids can inhibit the growth of certain cancer cells (non-small lung cancer). While this may not cure the cancer, cannabis can aid in keeping tumors from reaching sizes that may cause excessive harm to the patient. Since non-small lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the world, this study is critical for those seeking alternative treatment.
Read more from the US National Library of Medicine study here.
In America, 1 in 8 women and 1 in 1,000 men will develop invasive breast cancer. This is a huge percentage and with hundreds of millions of dollars funded by an array of organizations every year to combat this specific type of the disease, we’re hopeful that they will eventually find a cure. In 1998 there was a study published investigating whether cannabis could be used to treat this form of cancer. The study found that cannabinoids effectively inhibit “the proliferation of human breast cancer cells in vitro.” This essentially means that they took cancer cells, placed them in a test tube and attacked them with cannabinoids to see how they reacted. The results found that the cancer did not grow as it would normally. This could prove beneficial for those waiting for surgery to get a tumor removed as it would lessen the chances that the cancer might spread in between diagnosis and attempted removal.
Read more about this study here.
Much like the study that examined breast cancer cells, this study looked into how prostate cancer cells interact with cannabinoids. Published in 2012 by the US National Library of Medicine, it took the research one step further and studied the interaction of cannabinoids and cancer cells in vivo, meaning inside of a living organism. They found that CBD, the non-psychoactive component of cannabis, inhibited the cancer from growing and becoming invasive. With 1 in 7 men likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer, it’s important to find ways to fight it proactively and effectively. Cannabis is an effective drug when used to restrain cancer growth and has minimal side effects, making it an important option when treating prostate cancer patients.
Read more from the British Journal of Pharmacology study here.
Pancreatic cancer is responsible for 7% of cancer-related deaths in America. Thankfully, a study published in 2006 by the American Association of Cancer Research found that cannabinoids went further than simply inhibiting growth as they did in other studies regarding other cancers. The research found that the administration of cannabinoids “induced apoptosis.” This means that it enables the body to fight and effectively kill cancer cells in the pancreas. This is an important step towards to finding ways use cannabis to cure cancer entirely in some patients.
With the complete criminalization of cannabis in the United States and many other parts of the world, the study of cannabis’ effects on cancer hasn’t largely been investigated, though it would likely change the perception of the drug drastically (and quickly). Recent medical studies indicate that cannabis has positive results for patients suffering from some of America’s most common cancers and there are many other studies that support this. While cannabis may not be a proven cure, its benefits merit further investigation into the plant as a legitimate and important treatment option.