Cannabis Lung Cancer, Lung cancer has some of the highest mortality rates among cancer patients. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, approximately 80 to 90 percent of lung cancer cases are caused by smoking or exposure to tobacco products. But, what about cannabis? You might have heard that cannabis contains potent anti-cancer compounds. So, does the herb heal or cause lung cancer? Here’s a brief summary on cannabis and lung cancer.
There is a growing number of cancer patients who use cannabis to either manage symptoms or aid in the treatment of cancer. Perhaps surprisingly to some, many of these patients include those with lung cancer. This might seem a bit odd, how could cannabis treat lung cancer if it often smoked?
You’re unlikely to find a lung cancer patient puffing on a joint or hitting a bong. Instead, cancer patients often use specific cannabis products recommended for high-intensity support.
While cannabis-infused foods, beverages, and teas often relieve difficult-to-treat symptoms like nausea and vomiting, most patients rely on high-dose medical cannabis oil as their primary product.
Medical cannabis oil is a concentrated extract made from the potent buds and perhaps some small leaves of the cannabis plant. This form of medical cannabis became popular after activist and patient Rick Simpson published the documentary Run From The Cure, in which he details how he cured his own skin cancer with both topical and oral medical cannabis oil.
While it may sound too good to be true, there may be reasons to believe that there is more to the cannabis and cancer question than meets the eye. Recent studies in cancer cells and animal models have shown that cannabinoids, the active compounds in cannabis, successfully kill and inhibit the growth of tumor cells.
Unfortunately, clinical trials in humans have yet to be completed. Though, there are a few groups hoping to put the herb’s power to the test in willing cancer patients. Until that time, scientists are stuck studying the anti-cancer effects of cannabis in the laboratory.
Fortunately, many of the pre-clinical studies on cannabis and cancer have been successful. Here is an extremely brief summary of why there is promise for cannabis as a future lung cancer treatment.
In laboratory and animal models, researchers have found that two cannabis compounds, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), are successful in killing lung cancer cells. In one lab experiment published in the journal Oncogene in 2008, THC reduced the ability of lung cancer cells to produce blood vessels.
After success with cell lines, the researchers took to rodents. After taking samples of tumors from THC-treated rats, they found evidence that the cannabinoid seemed to have antiproliferative and anti-metastatic effects on the lung cancer cells.
These anti-cancer effects have been seen in other lung cancer experiments. Similar to other forms of cancer, some preclinical research from 2013 shows that treatment with CBD has triggered cell suicide (apoptosis) in lung cancer cells. This is a good sign that cannabinoids may successfully kill and reduce the size of lung cancer tumors, which is why researchers should have easy access to this plant for further study.
This is a good sign that cannabinoids may successfully kill and reduce the size of lung cancer tumors, which is why researchers should have easy access to this plant for further study.
As a word of caution, there is also evidence that THC and other cannabis compounds may have varying effects depending on the cancer type and other unknown factors. In one cell line study from 2004, small doses of THC treatment seemed to increase the proliferation of lung cancer cells. Why exactly some cells seemed to proliferate while other cancer cells were killed are unclear at this point.
Why exactly some cells seemed to proliferate while other cancer cells were killed are unclear at this point.
Laboratory experiments are extremely limited in their application in the human body. Some of this early research suggests that cannabis may be a novel cancer drug sometime in the future, though how it works and what types of cancer the herb can treat are unknown at this point.