An article in the October 2003 issue of the medical journal Nature Reviews, explains in detail current research on how cannabinoids can be used to treat cancer and tumors.
The article, titled Cannabinoids: potential anti-cancer agents, outlines the human body’s system of cannabinoid receptors, and explains how cannabinoids work to decrease nausea, increase appetite and inhibit pain.
However, most interesting is the section titled Antitumour effects of cannabinoids, where author Manuel Guzmn shows that cannabinoids destroy many forms of tumors and cancer cells.
Further, Guzmn claims that “cannabinoids are selective antitumor compounds, as they can kill tumor cells without affecting their non-transformed counterparts.” In fact, instead of harming normal cells, cannabinoids “might even protect them from cell death.”
Citing over 100 references of research from scientific and medicinal journals, this article compiles all major studies into how cannabinoids affect cancerous tumors and cancer patients.
In 2000, Manuel Guzmn led a study which showed that application of THC destroyed otherwise incurable brain cancer tumors in rats (CC#25, THC destroys brain cancers). Sadly their research could not continue due to a lack of funding (CC#29, No funding for THC tumor research).
Some notable studies into the anti-cancer effects of cannabinoids include:
A study published in the July 2002 edition of the medical journal Blood, which found that THC and some other cannabinoids produced “programmed cell death” in different varieties of human leukemia and lymphoma cell lines, thereby destroying the cancerous cells but leaving other cells unharmed.
A study published in a 1975 edition of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, which showed that THC slowed the growth of lung cancer, breast cancer and virus-induced leukemia in rats.
Titled Antineoplastic activity of cannabinoids, this study was funded by the US National Institute of Health, and performed by researchers at the Medical College of Virginia. Despite the promising results, no further research was made, and the study has essentially disappeared from the scientific literature.
A 1994 study, which documented that THC may protect against malignant cancers, and which was buried by the US government. The $2 million study, funded by the US Department of Health and Human Services, sought to show that large doses of THC produced cancer in rats. Instead, researchers found that massive doses of THC had a positive effect, actually slowing the growth of stomach cancers. The rats given THC lived longer than their non-exposed counterparts.
The study was unpublished and the results hidden for almost three years, until it was finally leaked to the media in 1997. (CC#17, THC for tumors).
A study published in the July 1998 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that anandamide inhibited the growth of breast cancer cells. Anandamide is the naturally occurring body chemical which is mimicked by cannabinoids.
Other studies cited by Guzmn show that cannabinoids can also help prevent the death of brain cells during a stroke, head trauma and nerve gas exposure (CC#16, Marijuana protects your brain).
For more information, and a link to the Nature Reviews article:
Manuel Guzmn: School of Biology, Complutense University, 28040 Madrid, Spain; firstname.lastname@example.org