Understanding the Problems Behind Using Cannabis to Fight Cancer

Photo credit: bigstock

Photo credit: bigstock


Every day it seems as if we are seeing more and more people experiencing what appears to be successful treatment, reduction, or remission in various cancers by using cannabis. Could it be that cannabis effectively treats cancer or cuts the risk of developing it in the first place? It’s true that there are many health benefits of cannabis, and over the last few decades, especially in the past 5 years, scientists have begun to show that cannabis can fight anxiety, ADHD, epilepsy, lower insulin levels, fight depression, and can slow the spread of cancer cells. Almost all scientific research regarding cannabis as a cure for cancer has been done using either animals or cancer cells that were grown in a lab setting. When it comes to people, however, things become a bit more unstable.

Studies show that in experiments done with mice, when they were given large doses of pure THC, they did appear to have a lower risk of developing cancer. Other studies show that cannabinoids, the active ingredients in marijuana and the derivatives of marijuana, reduced the growth of tumors and the progression of cancer in studies done with animals. Still another study using human glioma cells showed that, along with chemotherapy, cannabidiol made the chemo more effective and led to an increase in the death of cancer cells while leaving healthy cells untouched.

Now, having shown this, there has been another side that has not been as well reported. Cannabinoids might also have some unwanted effects on cancer. Some studies show that although high dose THC did kill cancer cells, it also caused damage to important blood vessels and could encourage cancer cells to grow elsewhere. It also has variable effects depending on the levels of cannabinoid receptors present and the dosage given. On top of this information, a few scientists have discovered that some synthetic cannabinoids improve our immune defense against cancer, but that cancer cells can develop a resistance to cannabinoids.

There are several other problems involving the use of cannabis to treat cancer that are also not often mentioned:

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