CannabisMd is the authority publisher on CBD and Cannabis
Cancer is a bitch. If you have ever witnessed a loved one lose the fight against cancer, and expire from the grip of its clenches, you know those words ring true. According to the American Cancer Society, there were approximately 1.7 million new cancer cases in 2016 and over 600,000 cancer related deaths that same year (1). Cancer kills the number of people it kills because it is insidious. Healthy cells divide without our conscious awareness. Generated by our coded DNA, our bodies are amazing at replicating our cells. You’ve heard the myth that at the end of a seven year cycle, all of our old cells have been replaced by new cells and that we are walking replicas of ourselves? That’s not entirely true (10), our old dead cells slough off, or are passed through our digestive system as waste, but some of our body parts are with us for life. Whatever the case, our cells need to replicate, and proliferate. Healthy cell proliferation means the cell cycle is completed and the right cells perform the right duties in the right parts of the body. And when that cell cycle has been completed, the old cell dies. So promoting healthy cell generation and proliferation is very important to whole body health.
Sometimes however, when a healthy cell replicates, a malfunction occurs. A carcinogen is a “cancer-causing agent,” that interrupts healthy cell functioning and cell division, causing a malfunction to occur. There are malfunctions that occur that cause a cell to divide and replicate a mutated version of itself. These are cancer cells. Cancer cells will replicate, creating another cancer cell that doesn’t perform its duties like the healthy cell. As interesting as this is, even more interesting is that somewhere in the body, chemicals are released (antibodies) that tell our immune system that a healthy cell wasn’t replicated correctly, that it is not an exact replica of its original. Immune cells called T cells are sent to the area to destroy the cancer cell. Healthy immune systems punch holes in cancer cells. This kills the cancer cell before it can make a bad copy.
Every human being creates cancer cells. But sometimes, in at least a third to half of the American population (1), something goes wrong and the immune system does not detect and destroy the cancer cells before they continue their defective replication. Some cancer cells are so insidious that they can shield themselves from T cell detection (3). Depending on what type of cancer cells they are, and where they are found in the body, cancer cells can build up in a specific region and form a tumor and/or they can float around in certain body systems and spread elsewhere, and attach to multiple regions at once. When cells migrate, this is called metastasis. When metastasis has occurred, the immune cells and systems failed to inoculate the cancer cells at an earlier, more treatable stage. Cancer cells can infiltrate the entire body and replicate in delicate, hard to treat organs and tissues where they grow quietly–sometimes for years–before known symptoms start to present themselves. Metastatic cancer causes the most cancer deaths (5).
As cancer research and subsequent cures continue to be funded, cancer deaths seem to be declining per 100,000 people. Incidences of certain types of cancers are also declining–like stomach cancer–which has declined steadily since the 1930s. The decline of stomach cancer is believed to be attributed to the introduction of the refrigerator into the American household. This prevented the necessity of food preservative use, and increased the consumption of more fruits and vegetables into the American diet (5). Statistics show however, that other types of cancers–such as colon cancer–are increasing (1). Trends can sometimes show that as certain societal habits like smoking and tobacco use decrease (because of the carcinogenic compounds found therein), a decline in related cancers also decreases. For instance, in the mid 1990s there was a sharp increase in prostate cancer among white and black American men. However, as health campaigns brought awareness about early detection techniques, reactively, the statistics showed a dramatic decrease in later incidences of prostate cancer. Cancer prevention and awareness of trends and causes are of obvious importance. And so is finding the perfect molotov cocktail for killing cancer cells.
Marijuana, touted for the medicinal benefits of the psychoactive compound THC–and its younger brother cannabidiol, or CBD–have both been implicated as big hitters in the fight against cancer. THC and CBD are compounds called cannabinoids which are present in marijuana, and CBD is also present in industrial hemp. Industrial hemp has virtually zero THC compounds because it has been crossbred out of the plant. CBD has virtually zero psychoactive properties but has as many healing benefits as THC. CBD and THC are so helpful because the human body has receptors in the brain and organs called the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system was discovered as recently as 1995. Researchers were floundering to discover why cannabinoids seemed to have such profoundly positive effects on healing, pain relief, and mental health.
There are endogenous cannabinoids found naturally in human and animal tissue, and there are phytocannabinoids (phyto means plant) found in THC and CBD. There are also synthetic cannabinoids that are manufactured in laboratories. The brain and body see phytocannabinoids as helpful, natural endogenous substances, and uptake CBD and THC like it would if those compounds were found and produced in the body. THC and CBD help the body to retain homeostasis (6). Phytocannabinoids, the compounds such as THC and CBD, mimic the body’s natural compounds used to help fight off disease, induce healing, and reduce pain. If something goes wrong in the body or in the brain, and there is pain, disease, or mental illness, CBD or THC can be used in the right amounts, and the endocannabinoid system greets these compounds as helpful, healing agents.
CBD has been specifically implicated for its ability to destroy cancer cells, protecting healthy cells in several ways, and for providing safe pain relief for cancer sufferers. These studies however are mostly preclinical trials in the laboratory. In some cases, lab mice were injected with cancer cells, or under special circumstances, some cancer patients gave researchers the permission to see how CBD treatment affected them (when tested on living subjects this is called in vivo). In other cases, under a microscope in a petri dish, researchers viewed the interaction between cannabinoids, human proteins, immunity cells, and cancer cells (this is called in situ). Here are some of the ways CBD is believed to interfere with cancer:
Since the 1995 discovery of the endocannabinoid system, researchers have been scrambling to isolate the different cannabinoids, and discover their many uses. There are currently around 85 known cannabinoids found in the Cannabis sativa plant. CBD and THC are the most abundant cannabinoids. Scientists were interested in the various reported anecdotal medicinal and therapeutic effects of marijuana because for millennia, humans have cultivated the plant and used it for ceremonial use, folk magic, and healing. Now that we have the science and the instruments to study the molecular components of cannabinoids, and how they affect the human body, we continue to see that our ancestors intuitively knew something about cannabis we are trying to prove with empirical science. The irony of this is, in most of these studies, and as far as the evidence shows, researchers are still unable to determine all of the mechanisms CBD utilizes to heal our bodies and minds. Scientists can see CBD is there, they can see that it works, and that the side effects–if any–are minimal.
CBD is specifically promising for cancer above other cannabinoids for a few reasons. Although THC has also been implicated in cancer treatments, there are a few drawbacks. THC has been known to suppress the immune system. This is particularly troublesome for cancer patients who are battling cancer, and who could struggle with any kind of secondary infection that also impaired the immune system. Because THC has psychoactive properties, it can be problematic for cancer treatment.
It is clear that more clinical trials must be performed and more data must be collected over longer periods of time that show as much empirical evidence possible proving CBDs efficacy in the fight against cancer. So far, with no known side effects, treating a myriad of ills with CBD seems to be a win-win. But, we need to make it available and more people need to be aware of how helpful this compound is. The market for CBD growers and consumers began to explode in 2013. And in 2014, under the Farm Bill act–it became legally available, with certain labeling restrictions–to Americans in all 50 states. New legislation, however may be threatening the federal legality of CBD. This is very disconcerting to some–and to others, at the very least–suspicious. This is because CBD is not psychoactive, and as such, should not come under such strict federal regulation as it has been, but it seems at least for now that while it is still in preclinical trials, the FDA lists it as a “new drug.” And as of January 2017, the DEA has deemed CBD a Schedule I drug. For the foreseeable future, it seems we wait patiently to see what legislation is passed, and what the future holds for such a “novel” treatment for cancer.
(2) “Medical Marijuana Inc.; can Cannabidiol CBD Fight Metastatic Cancer? According to the Latest Research the Answer is Yes.” Women’s Health Law Weekly (Oct 07, 2012): 643.
(4) Christine L. Chaffer and Robert A. Weinberg “A Perspective on Cancer Cell Metastasis”
Science New Series, Vol. 331, No. 6024 (25 March 2011), pp. 1559-1564
Published by: American Association for the Advancement of Science
(5) McKean-Cowdin, R, et al. “Declining cancer rates in the 1990s.” Journal Of Clinical Oncology: Official Journal Of The American Society Of Clinical Oncology 18, no. 11 (June 2000): 2258-2268. MEDLINE Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed August 26, 2017).
“Cannabinoids increase lung cancer cell lysis by lymphokine-activated killer cells via upregulation of ICAM-1” Biochemical Pharmacology Volume 92, Issue 2, 15 November 2014, Pages 312-325
(8)He, Zhen-hui, Zhang Lei, Yan Zhen, Wei Gong, Bo Huang, Ye Yuan, Gui-mei Zhang, Xiao-juan Wang, and Zuo-hua Feng. “Adeno-Associated Virus-Mediated Expression of Recombinant CBD-HepII Polypeptide of Human Fibronectin Inhibits Metastasis of Breast Cancer.” Breast Cancer Research and Treatment143, no. 1 (01, 2014): 33-45. doi:https://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10549-013-2783-8.
(9)Elbaz, Mohamad, Mohd W. Nasser, Janani Ravi, Nissar A. Wani, Dinesh K. Ahirwar, Helong Zhao, Steve Oghumu, et al. “Modulation of the Tumor Microenvironment and Inhibition of EGF/EGFR Pathway: Novel anti‐tumor Mechanisms of Cannabidiol in Breast Cancer.” Molecular Oncology 9, no. 4 (2015): 906-919.
(11) Massi, P; Vaccani, A; Bianchessi, S; Costa, B; Macchi, P; et al. “The non-psychoactive cannabidiol triggers caspase activation and oxidative stress in human glioma cells” Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences; Basel 63.17 (Sep 2006): 2057-66.
(12) Solinas, M., P. Massi, AR Cantelmo, MG Cattaneo, R. Cammarota, D. Bartolini, V. Cinquina, et al. “Cannabidiol Inhibits Angiogenesis by Multiple Mechanisms.” British Journal of Pharmacology 167, no. 6 (2012): 1218-1231.
CannabisMd is the authority publisher on CBD and Cannabis
CannabisMD is The Authority for all information relating to Cannabidiol (CBD) and Medical Cannabis. It’s the definitive resource for scientific studies, videos, latest news, original articles, discussion forums, quality products, locating dispensaries & medical cannabis doctors and much more for Medical Cannabis and Cannabidiol (CBD).
The content featured on this page is not intended to assert any claims about the health benefits of any product that may be advertised on this page, or the efficacy of such product in treating any specific medical conditions. Product ads on this page are randomly generated, and the content accompanying them was not produced to promote any specific brand or product. Any correlation between the two is strictly coincidental, and should not to be taken as an endorsement of products advertised. No free products or other renumeration has been received by CannabisMd.com in exchange for generating specific content such as videos or articles. Read Terms and Conditions.