CBD for Stage 4 Breast Cancer Patients

Patients with stage 4 breast cancer use CBD

Image Credit: By one line man on Shutterstock

If you have stage 4 breast cancer, finding healing options is difficult. Find out why CBD is a great treatment for breast cancer.

Breast cancer can be a devastating diagnosis, especially if the diagnosis is stage 4 breast cancer. Cancer in this stage has spread outside of the breast and nearby lymph nodes into other body organs.

Stage 4 breast cancer is also referred to as metastatic breast cancer. Treatment for cancer that has spread beyond the breast is often more aggressive, as all efforts are made to kill invasive cancer cells throughout the body.

CBD, a compound that is extracted from cannabis plants, shows promise as a legitimate treatment option for this systemic and dangerous cancer. Through various molecular pathways and mechanisms, CBD appears to facilitate cancer cell death and inhibit tumor growth.

If you or someone you love has metastatic breast cancer, you need an effective treatment that can help you win the fight.

To learn more about this incredible compound and how it may treat advanced breast cancer, read on.

What Is CBD? CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of more than eighty compounds known as cannabinoids that are extracted from plants in the cannabis sativa family. It is usually sourced from industrial hemp.

CBD and other cannabinoids interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, as well as with non-cannabinoid receptors and immune cell mediators.

CBD is non-psychoactive and does not give users a “high” like THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol does. Because it is non-psychoactive, it’s legal in most places.

CBD is used to treat many conditions, including chronic pain, depression, anxiety, movement disorders, autoimmune disorders, and osteoporosis. It now shows promise as a treatment for stage 4 breast cancer.

What Is Stage 4 Breast Cancer?

When a cancer is diagnosed at stage 4, it is no longer isolated to the area of its origin. At this point, the cancer has spread, or metastasized, beyond the breast or breasts.

The cancer cells invade healthy tissue, forming tumors in other organs such as the:

  • Lungs
  • Skin
  • Liver
  • Brain
  • Distant lymph nodes
  • Various glands

Breast cancer that has spread throughout the body causes potentially fatal cancer development in vital organs.

At the time of the first diagnosis, the cancer may already be at stage 4. It may also be diagnosed after a previously diagnosed breast cancer has recurred.

What Is Metastasis?

Metastasis is the development of other cancerous growths at sites distant from the original cancer site. Cancer cells that have metastasized have broken free from a tumor. They then spread through the bloodstream or lymphatic system to other parts of the body.

Cells that travel through lymph ducts can end up in lymph nodes or continue until they settle in other organs. Lymph nodes are small glands in the lymphatic system where fluid (lymph) is filtered. They are also where lymphocytes, special immune cells, are formed.

Cancer cells that break away from a tumor most often take the bloodstream route. This is dangerous because the bloodstream can take cancer cells to any area of the body.

While a large number of these traveling cells die, some may survive and settle into a new location. When this happens, they then begin to grow, forming new tumors.

When cancer cells have spread to a new area and begin to grow, metastasis has occurred. Metastasis is the main cause of cancer fatality.

What Causes Metastasis in Stage 4 Breast Cancer?

Most cells must remain attached to the extracellular matrix of their respective tissues in order to survive. If cells detach from this matrix, they succumb to programmed cell death or apoptosis. Tumor cells, however, can still survive after they break away.

This ability to survive and move after detachment allows cancer cells to spread and grow.

These breakaway cells need to attach to and enter blood or lymph vessel walls in order to reach other organs. After they settle, they have to be able to proliferate, or grow and reproduce, in the new area. They also must be able to dodge immune system attacks.

All of these requirements create changes within cancer cells that make them different from the original tumor. Because of these changes, the new tumors may be more difficult to treat.

Circulating Tumor Cells

Circulating tumor cells, or CTCs, are traveling cancer cells. They are often unresponsive to chemotherapy and are able to survive in the hostile microenvironment of the blood and body tissues.

After breakaway, the cells undergo metabolic and genetic changes that make them resistant to treatment.

Most cancer therapies target proliferating tumor cells. Proliferating tumor cells are rapidly increasing in number by dividing and growing into new cells. CTCs, however, are in a dormant stage. This is why these therapies often don’t work after cancer has metastasized.

How CTCs May Survive

It’s generally acknowledged that cells use certain metabolic processes to obtain energy to carry out their processes.

Glucose is one of the main energy sources used by healthy cells for energy. There are other metabolic pathways that can be used for energy besides glucose oxidation, however.

One relevant energy source besides glucose are fatty acids, which can be oxidized for energy use. This is called the fatty acid oxidation (FAO) pathway.

Cancer cells don’t function like healthy cells. They undergo metabolic reprogramming and cellular signaling alterations that allow them to use different energy sources for cell function, growth, and eventual proliferation.

While most cells use glucose for energy needs, cancer cells can use other sources of energy, such as fatty acids.

This fatty acid oxidation pathway may be one of the reasons CTCs are able to survive outside of their original tumor. When these cells detach, their glucose uptake is inhibited, resulting in an energy loss and a buildup of unstable molecules called Reactive Oxygen Species, or ROS.

In non-cancer cells, ROS buildup triggers cell death. The ROS buildup in detached tumor cells initially inhibits their ability to make energy from fatty acids.

But eventually, antioxidants within the tumor cell counter ROS buildup and reactivate the fatty acid oxidation pathway. This enables the cell to generate energy from fatty acids stored within the cell.

Fatty Acid Oxidation Regulation and Tumor Cell Survival

FAO appears to be regulated by a protein called promyelocytic leukemia protein (PML). This regulation depends on PPAR-delta, or peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (delta type).

Simply put, PPAR-delta facilitates energy combustion through lipid metabolism. It allows cells to use fatty acids for energy. Increased PPAR-delta activity makes metastasized cancers more aggressive.

Another peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor type, PPAR-gamma, has a different action. PPAR-gamma promotes lipid (fat) production and storage, not oxidation.

Activation of these receptors inhibits fatty acid oxidation. This ultimately deprives the tumor cells of energy needed to survive and proliferate.

CBD and Stage 4 Breast Cancer

Understanding how traveling tumor cells get their energy is essential for understanding how CBD may help treat stage 4 breast cancer.

CBD activates PPAR-gamma receptors within cancer cells. When PPAR-gamma receptors are activated, energy production from fatty acids is halted. Without energy for metabolic functions, these cells cannot survive or divide.

The GPR55 Receptor

Activation of the PPAR-gamma receptors may not be the only way CBD can treat stage 4 breast cancer.

The GPR55 receptor is involved in several important body processes. When activated, it can also promote cancer cell proliferation, contributing to metastasis.

CBD effectively blocks GPR55 signaling, essentially deactivating the receptor. This may help slow or stop increasing cancer cells.

CBD and the Id-1 Gene

Tumor and cancer cell aggressiveness increases with the expression of a gene called Id-1. This gene is only found in cancer cells.

Id-1 regulates the potential of metastatic cancers, including stage 4 breast cancer. When the expression of this gene is inhibited at the promoter level by CBD, tumor aggressiveness and invasiveness is down-regulated.

CBD and Inflammation

Chronic inflammation may play a role in cancer development and metastasis. Inflammation is the immune system’s response to an injury or irritant. Immune cells communicate by releasing substances called cytokines. Cytokines affect the behavior of these cells.

IL-6 and TNF-alpha, two pro-inflammatory cytokines, put into motion a mechanism that encourages cancer cells to move through blood vessel walls. This contributes to metastasis.

CBD activates an enzyme called caspase, which induces cell death in overactive immune cells. The death of these immune cells reduces the number of cytokines that are produced, resulting in reduced inflammation.

CBD and Apoptosis

Apoptosis is programmed cell death. It occurs in a healthy cell when something goes wrong, is damaged, or is old. Cancer cells can “switch” this pathway off, leading to uncontrolled growth and spreading.

In breast cancer cells, CBD induces apoptosis, ultimately inhibiting proliferation and metastasis. It can do this by using several different mechanisms.

One way CBD seems to induce this programmed cell death is by mediating molecules that are involved in the autophagic process. Autophagy is a normal body process in which destroyed cells are degraded.

CBD for Treatment of Stage 4 Breast Cancer

Metastatic breast cancer is a frightening condition and time is of the essence.

CBD may offer a low-toxicity, potent treatment that destroys cancer without harming your healthy cells.

For more helpful information on the use of CBD as an effective cancer therapy, please read through our other posts and explore our collection of independent websites.

Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
At cannabisMD we aim to provide you with all the information and knowledge you need to take the next step in your personal cannabis journey! Read about our team

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