In August 2015, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) released a report on their website which stated, “Marijuana kills cancer”. Yes, you read that right – marijuana kills cancer.
We know that cannabis can be used for medicinal purposes to relieve symptoms of many chronic illnesses. In fact, marijuana has actually been used for medicinal purposes for over 3000 years.
The potential benefits of medicinal Cannabis for people living with cancer (and other chronic illness) include: Anti-nausea, Appetite stimulation, Pain relief and improved sleep.
There are 21 chemical components found in marijuana called cannabinoids. These chemicals activate specific receptors found throughout the body to produce pharmacological effects on the central nervous system and the immune system. This is the physiological and biochemical changes in the body produced by a drug in therapeutic concentration.
THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is the primary psychoactive ingredient found in marijuana. However, there are other compounds such as cannabinol (CBN), cannabidiol (CBD), cannabichromene (CBC), cannabigerol (CBG), tetrahydrocannabivarin(THCv), and delta-8-THC that can have pharmacological effects. For example, CBD is known to have significant analgesic and anti-inflammatory activity without the high that THC produces.
During a 2-year study, groups of mice and rats were given various doses of THC by tube feeding. Tests were also done of a variety of cancerous cells.
Cannabinoids may reduce tumor growth by causing cell death, blocking cell growth, and blocking the development of blood vessels needed to grow tumors.
Lab tests on animals have shown that cannabinoids may be able to kill cancer cells while protecting normal cells.
Cannabinoids may protect against inflammation of the colon and may have potential in reducing the risk of colon cancer, and possibly in its treatment.
A laboratory study of THC in liver cancer cells showed it damaged or killed the cancer cells.
A Men’s Health Study proves that cannabis can potentially kill cancer: An analysis of 84,170 participants looked at the association between cannabis use and the occurrence of bladder cancer. Over 16 years, they found 89 Cannabis users developed bladder cancer compared with 190 of the men who did not report cannabis use. After dividing the study up by age, race, ethnicity, and body mass index, cannabis use was associated with a 45% reduction in bladder cancer incidence.
In conclusion, many studies have shown the potential of cannabis being able to kill cancer cells. However, little of these studies have been tested on humans. Only a handful of clinical trials have been held with humans, so it is too soon to say if the effects will work as well in humans. The good news is work is being done, and the topic is gaining interest among researchers.