Cancer, Cannabinoids and the Anti Tumour Strategy | cannabisMD

Cancer, Cannabinoids and the Anti Tumour Strategy

Cancer, Cannabinoids and the Anti Tumour Strategy; British Pharmacological Society

British Pharmacological Society

Cannabinoids and cancer: pros and cons of an antitumour strategy
Cannabinoids are a collection of naturally occurring chemical compounds that are situated in the marijuana plant (cannabis sativa). In mammals, compounds with properties similar to active components of Cannabis sativa, the so called ‘endocannabinoids’, have been shown to modulate key cell‐signalling pathways involved in cancer cell growth, invasion and metastasis. Cannabidiol (CBD) is the main chemical within the cannabis plant and it is said by the wide scientific community that it has anti inflammatory effects when induced into animal cells. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is another one of these chemicals and it is said to have a psychotropic effect. Major cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) are located in the endocannabinoid system and gives endogenous cannabinoids power to bind and thrive in the body. This paper will outline how cannabinoids work in the body to treat cancer and what the possible future uses of cannabinoid products are in cancer treatment therapy.

Main Points

  • Cannabinoids can exert antiproliferative effects on tumours
  • Cannabinoids have a therapeutic potential in animals

Cannabinoids can exert antiproliferative effects on tumours

Recent studies indicate that cannabis has a number of effects depending on different cell types, what cannabinoid receptors are being triggered, how the agent is administered, timing of drug delivery and how responsive it is to tumours and normal cells. Cell studies have seen an inconsistent relationship between marijuana smoke and cancer, and administration of massive oral doses of THC in rats or mice did not grow tumour size in a 2‐year study. In animal models, cannabinoids give off a direct antiproliferative effect on tumours, but they could indirectly increase tumour growth. The normal immunosuppressive impact of THC is an undoubtable situation imposing caution in how much of a dose should be administered on the CB2‐receptor‐selective compounds. The immunosuppressive ability of plant‐derived cannabinoids could greater tumour cell proliferation and fasten the cancer spread to other parts of the body in animals, but the cell response to cannabinoids crucially depends on drug dose and cellular context .

Cannabinoids have a therapeutic potential in animals

In rats, THC was administered to target the tumour and this displayed great efficacy in this study. Moreover, long‐term impacts of chronically administered cannabinoids have not been well documented. To date, the prescription of cannabinoids is given for medical disorders that are not properly mediated by normal treatments, because they have a potential therapeutic use. Even if previous studies are needed to see if cannabinoids action in cancer are actually effective, the cannabinoid system represents a promising target for cancer treatment.


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