Though there is enough scientific evidence that marijuana can potentially affect cancer, it is still hard to believe it is possible. This article is aimed to explain to you how cannabinoids, marijuana's active compounds, can actually prevent cancer cells from growing or spreading, and even destroy them altogether.
Once cancer cells appear in a human body, they begin to divide and conquer other cells and tissues. This process of growing and spreading is also known as proliferation in the scientific world. However, recent studies have discovered that marijuana has an anti-proliferative effect on cancer cells.
For instance, a 2010 study found that marijuana's compounds had an anti-proliferative effect on deep infiltrating endometriosis in female patients. Endometriosis appears in women's reproductive organs and greatly increases the risk of developing a malignant tumor.
Another study conducted by a team of Italian researchers in 2013 revealed that cannabidiol (or CBD) protected healthy cells from migration, attachment, and invasion of tumor cells.
In addition, a 2014 cannabis-related study found that marijuana blocked cell proliferation in lung, breast, and prostate cancers. Perhaps, this cannabinoids' ability to stop tumor growth can also help patients with other types of cancer.
Cancer cells like any other cells in the body need blood for growing, so they take the necessary blood through angiogenesis, a process that makes tumors create blood vessels for their growing.
While scientists are creating medicine that will prevent cancer from developing blood cells, cannabinoids seem to perform this task pretty well.
A 2008 study helped Spanish researchers find that THC can decrease a tumor's ability to create new blood vessels. During the study, scientists investigated brain cancer cells, but they also noticed the same effect of marijuana on skin carcinomas and melanomas.
Moreover, a 2011 study performed at Vanderbilt University revealed that CBD was also able to prevent the angiogenic process, but in a slightly different way than THC was.
During tumor growth, cancer cells can separate and attach to other tissues. This is how metastatic cells appear in the body and damage other organs. The side effect of this process is that some people with breast cancer can be later diagnosed with bone or other types of cancer.
Fortunately, researchers at the Complutense University of Madrid, Spain, discovered in their 2012 study that marijuana's compounds had anti-metastatic effects on cancer cells. Moreover, a recent review of 12 marijuana-related studies reported enough evidence that cannabinoids blocked cancer metastasis.
Apoptosis is a technical name for cell suicide that can also be considered one of marijuana's effects. In simple words, cannabis can potentially force tumor cells to self-destroy.
A 1998 study discovered that THC was able to provoke apoptosis in cancer cells and destroy them in this way. Moreover, Current Oncology has recently published a study that also revealed the ability of THC and CBD to destroy neuroblastoma, the most common type of cancer among children. The study findings showed that CBD affected tumor cells more aggressively than THC.
All the mentioned studies show how marijuana can destroy tumor cells in different ways on each stage of the disease progress. Though chemotherapy and radiation remain the most effective methods of cancer treatment, they have many long-term side effects. Hopefully, further studies of marijuana and cancer will help scientists incorporate cannabis medicine into the intensive treatment of cancer.
If marijuana has already helped you struggle with cancer, please share your experience in the comments below.