Medical marijuana has already proven to be beneficial in treating various forms of cancer. A recent study has even discovered that some cannabinoids potentially have killing properties in relation to leukemia cells. Though further investigation is necessary, this evidence is stunning and promising.
Leukemia is the cancer of bone marrow that can afflict both children and adults. This debilitating condition progresses very quickly and leads to abnormally high levels of white blood cells. Leukemia patients have to go through countless radiation treatments and chemotherapy in order to keep their lives. Fortunately, a new study has found that medical cannabis compounds can serve as the additional treatment to chemotherapy for a more effective reduction of the number of white blood cells.
There is evidence that certain cannabinoids have great cancer-fighting effects as their activity helps prevent tumor growth and even stop tumor eradication.
Although the scientific evidence of marijuana's potential is impressive, researchers at St. George’s University of London in the United Kingdom believe that in case of leukemia cannabis can be applied only in combination with chemotherapy. According to their recent study published in the International Journal of Oncology, some cannabinoids can be used for treating leukemia patients along with such chemotherapy drugs as vincristine and cytarabine.
Dr. Wai Liu, the leading researcher of the study, tested various combinations of marijuana chemicals and chemotherapy drugs in order to find the most effective groups. His team also tried to find a connection between the order in which the chemicals were given to leukemia patients and the success of the outcome.
The findings showed that both cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) could kill white blood cells alone, but their combination provided a more effective result.
The study also found that taking cannabinoids right after the initial dose of chemotherapy significantly improves the outcome. Thus, combining chemotherapy and medical cannabis is more beneficial for leukemia patients than using these two treatment methods separately.
Anna Perman, senior science information manager at Cancer Research UK, expressed her doubts in the recent findings. She is concerned that the study does not provide any information on the safety and effectiveness of cannabinoids for patients with leukemia. Such uncertain position on the issue might be caused by the fact that cannabis is still illegal in the United Kingdom.
Further clinical trials on this issue are necessary to confirm the recent findings. Perman hopes that future studies will let scientists determine whether cannabinoids are effective and what doses of cannabis are safe for treating leukemia.
Meanwhile, Dr. Wai Liu thinks that the study results are promising and can provide new opportunities for treating cancer. He also thinks that apart from finding the most effective combination of cannabinoids, scientists should also look for the best ways of consuming marijuana in order to improve the therapeutic effect.