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Medical Marijuana: The Future of Breast Cancer Therapy?

By on March 9, 2013

Summary (click to view)

  • Breast cancer accounts for 30% of all cancers in women worldwide
  • Studies show that the compounds found in marijuana (cannabinoids) have anti-tumor properties in a variety of cancers
  • Evidence suggests that cannabinoids have the potential to treat all 3 types of breast cancer
  • A combination of conventional and cannabinoid-based treatments may be more powerful than either treatment alone
  • Cannabinoids are non-toxic and have minor side-effects in patients
  • Cannabinoid studies have yet to advance past the preclinical stage for breast cancer
  • However, cannabinoid-based treatments are available for cancer patients who suffer from nausea and pain related to their disease  
  • TruthOnPot.com – Breast cancer is a disastrous disease that affects the lives of patients and families in all parts of the world.

    Breast cancer remains the most common malignancy among Western women and accounts for 22.9% of all cancers in women across the globe. In 2008, breast cancer was reported as the cause of over 450,000 deaths worldwide.

    Cannabinoids and Cancer

    Breast cancer was the cause of 458,503 deaths worldwide (2008). Image source

    Although the medical properties of marijuana were first documented by human civilization over a thousand years ago, the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids – the medical compounds found in marijuana – in the treatment of cancer has only been discovered recently. Since the late 1990s, numerous preclinical studies have demonstrated the antitumor effects of cannabinoids in a variety of cancers.

    Studies show that cannabinoid receptors are over-expressed in the tumor cells of certain cancers, such as cancers of the liver, lung, prostate and breast. Thus, researchers have been led to believe that the endocannabinoid system may be up-regulated in cancer in an innate biological effort to fight off this disease.

    Studies also show that when cannabinoids are administered and bind to these receptors, they are able to inhibit cancer cell growth by preventing the proliferation of cancer cells and by inducing cancer cell death (apoptosis). Furthermore, cannabinoids have been found to impair both tumor angiogenesis – the increase in localized blood flow induced by tumor cells – and metastasis – the spreading of cancer to other organs.

    Cannabinoids and Breast Cancer

    While medical advancements in breast cancer have progressed in recent decades, certain breast tumors continue to be resistant to conventional treatments. Breast cancer is comprised of tumors that are distinct in their molecular profiles, leading medical professionals to categorize the disease into 3 main subtypes.

    Research suggests that synthetic cannabinoids and phytocannabinoids (mainly THC and CBD) may be useful in treating all 3 subtypes of breast cancer, with the strongest evidence of therapeutic potential pointing to treatment of HER2-positive and triple-negative breast tumors. The therapeutic potential of cannabinoids is particularly important for patients with triple-negative breast cancer, as there is no standard therapy that currently exists and prognosis for this group of patients is poor.

    In addition to their anti-cancer effects, research also shows that cannabinoids are considerably safer and less toxic than conventional treatments. Cannabinoids are non-toxic to non-tumor cells and are well tolerated by patients – only eliciting relatively mild side-effects such as dizziness and fatigue.

    “This compound offers the hope of a non-toxic therapy that could achieve the same results without any of the painful side effects.” – Dr. Sean McAllister

    In 2007, Dr. Sean McAllister and his team of researchers were one of the first to discover that CBD’s cancer-fighting properties could be successfully applied to breast cancer.

    As it turns out, cannabinoids can provide a variety of other benefits in the treatment of cancer, including the prevention of nausea and vomiting associated with standard chemotherapeutic treatments and reduction of cancer-associated pain. Research also shows that, when combined with conventional cancer treatments, cannabinoids are able to induce a synergistic action against cancer and tumor cells, suggesting that the combination of conventional and cannabinoid-based treatments may more powerful than the administration of either treatment alone.

    Clinical Applications: The Current State

    Unfortunately, scientific research on the effects of cannabinoids on breast cancer has been limited to preclinical trials involving cell cultures and animal models. Researchers believe that further preclinical trials are necessary to identify which patient population is the most appropriate for cannabinoid treatment and which cannabinoids specifically present the best therapeutic option for patients before trials can advance to the clinical stage.

    Until these factors are established, it is unlikely that oncologists will be willing to prescribe cannabinoid-based medicine for the treatment of breast cancer, despite the fact that research authors continue to assert the need for health professionals to be aware of cannabinoid research.

    In a recent update (2013) published in the Oncology Nursing Forum, associate editor Susan Weiss Behrend concluded:

    “…cannabinoids have demonstrated antitumor activity in preclinical breast cancer models. Practicing oncology professionals need to be aware of the clinical potential of these agents…” – Susan Weiss Behrend, RN

    While medical marijuana remains inaccessible for most, cannabinoid-based pharmaceuticals such as Marinol and Cesamet (oral capsules of synthetic THC) are widely available to cancer patients for the treatment of chemotherapy-induced nausea. As well, Sativex (a natural-cannabinoid derived mouth spray) has been approved in Canada for the treatment of cancer-associated pain.

    As modern cannabinoid research flourishes and continues to provide strong evidence of the cancer-fighting effects of these compounds, patients should remain optimistic about the future of cancer research and the emerging role of marijuana-based treatments that may one day take center stage in the battle against this devastating disease.

    • http://www.facebook.com/patricia.allen.520357 Patricia Allen

      As a two time (left and right, intraductal and lobular) primary breast cancer survivor who has used cannabis for 44 years, I do believe I am alive because of the bond my body has with the endocannabinoid system. I vape a higher CBD cannabis now as an added preventative method. Great article.

    • jenx.

      I don’t understand if it has been proven that this can, as stated above, help prevent the mestasizing or spreading of cancer, that it was not auto. approved for all patients with cancers like mine!!! (large.B cell and follicular strands of Non-Hodgkins lymphoma) As they have told me that it WILL eventually spread and it already is on both sides and both lower and upper diaghram, and I’ve been told that it can move to an organ, and eventually affect bone marrow. As it has returned immediately after surgeries to remove affected nodes and radiation, they are advising that I postpone further treatment as it will cause it to come back more aggressively each time. If it can be possibly contained, kind of hard to swallow that anything that would even possibly help is not being done!!! Scary thing when it’s on your doorstep!!!

      • TruthOnPotcom

        Jenx,

        It’s beyond the best of us why there is such a lack of medical acknowledgment of marijuana’s incredible potential, although I suspect it has something to do with the FDA and the profit motives behind the pharma industry as a whole.

        However, there is a wealth of anecdotal evidence of marijuana’s cancer-fighting effects on the internet and I would encourage you to watch Rick Simpson’s documentary called Run From The Cure (you can find it on youtube) for more relevant treatment information. It covers a number of patient success stories and provides step-by-step instructions on how to make hemp oil at home. If you’re lucky enough to live in legal medical marijuana state, dispensaries are also a great source of information and medicine.

        While TruthOnPot.com tries not to give direct medical advice in our articles, I would be glad to help you with searching for information on how to treat your disease with cannabis if you were to send me an email through our contact page.

        I hope the best for you and your fight against this horrible disease. Everyone has been affected by cancer, directly or indirectly, at some point in their lives, I included. Unfortunately, medical marijuana has yet to receive the attention that it needs in order for its therapeutic benefits to be fully realized by the public.

        The only way that I’ve been able to contribute is by summarizing the research that is currently being done and putting it in a place where cancer patients like yourself may access it. Once again, I wish you the best and hope that you will continue to fight the disease with determination and courage.

      • proudhippiemama

        The answer to your question is simple there are no money in cures… only in treatment. They have actually had several thousands of people cured from cancer in Canada through intravenous vitamin C but the U.S. government won’t approve of the therapy because their studies “merit further investigation.” It’s pretty simple if it does make money the drug companies disapprove and the U.S. government complies to make them happy. As a practitioner it makes me sick because of the Hippocratic oath to ALWAYS do what is best for the paitent.

        • Tielman

          The oath for hippocrates is love $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$. And that leads to greed $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ and money mixed in any way with politics is so counterproductive and obvious, we simply chose to ignore it. That’s someone elses problem. Who me worry ? And then a mighty country, a one time world leader in many ways succumbs to the siren song of $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ and allows children to suffer and die, more often horribly, because their morally bankrupt corporations won’t permitt a cure that’s FREE. As congress sits on its hands. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$, the root of evil. The grease of corruption. We all suffer if we refuse to confront this enemy.

      • TIMMY BRASE

        i UNDERSTAND WERE YOU ARE COMING FROM MY WIFE IS ALSO FIGHTING THE BATTLE OF HER LIFE….I WOULD ADVISE YOU TO RESEARCH THE ENDOCANNABINOID SYSTEM WATCH A VIDEO CALLED RUN FROM THE CURE. THIS IS REAL STUFF AND PEOPLE LIKE YOU MY WIFE AND SO MANY OTHERS DO NOT HAVE TO GO THROUGH THIS THERE IS A WAY IT MAY NOT BE ACCEPTED BY THE FEDS AND THAT’S BECAUSE THEY CAN’T MAKE MONEY OFF SOMETHING THAT IS NATURAL PEOPLE WILL NOT GO WITH MAN MADE CANNABINOIDS MADE IN A FUCKING LABORATORY AND TEST TUBE WHEN THEY CAN GROW THERE OWN MEDACINE NATURALLY AND KNOW IT IS WHAT IT IS THAT IS WHY THERE IS SUCH A DELIMA OVER THIS IT WOULD BE LIKE THE FEDS TRYING TO PUT A PATENT ON WATER ON AIR OR ON SOMETHING AS SIMPLE AS A HEAD OF LETTUCE IT CAN’T BE DONE. IF YOU ARE SEEKING HELP PLEASE READ AND WATCH YOU CAN FIND ME ON FB AND I CAN POINT YOU IN THE DIRECTION MY NAME IS TIMMY BRASE.

    • Mery

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    • Lizzy Kenn

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    • mariam

      My friend introduce to this herbal doctor from Africa who provide me with herbal medicine and hemp oil to cure my cancer,this medication was procured and delivered to me within a week and after using the medication for four weeks,i saw a great change and as I’m writing this article i am not a cancer patient and i am healthy again. The reason i am this article is because many people have died of this deadly disease that have no orthodox cure and many people are still out there suffering from this disease today. If you there reading this article and know anybody suffering any kind of cancer contact Dr Ukuse via email: herbalhealinghome@gmail.com and give him a trial and i know he will help you and make the person live again.

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    • Martina Sidney

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