Cancer Research & CBD

Between preclinical studies in the lab and preclinical studies on animals, preliminary research into the effects of cannabis-derived compounds as a treatment for cancer, cancer-related side effects, or treatment-related side effects has yielded some important discoveries.

The potential benefits of medicinal cannabis for people living with cancer include antiemetic effects (helps with nausea and vomiting), anxiolytic effects (reduces anxiety), appetite stimulation, pain relief, and improved sleep. Cannabidiol (CBD), in particular, is thought to have significant analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and anxiolytic activity without the psychoactive effect (high) of delta-9-THC. Generally, physicians recommend medicinal cannabis for symptom management for cancer patients. Pediatric patients are also seeking symptom relief with cannabis or cannabinoid treatment as well.

But what’s interesting is that cannabinoids and hemp oils have also shown antitumor effects.

In NCI’s cancer information summary, which provides an overview of the use of cannabis as a treatment for cancer-related symptoms (caused by the disease itself or its treatment), the agency laid out some of the research to date.

Antitumor effects in preclinical studies

Cannabinoids may cause antitumor effects by various mechanisms, including induction of cell death, inhibition of cell growth, and inhibition of tumor angiogenesis invasion and metastasis. They appear to kill tumor cells but do not affect their non-transformed counterparts and may even protect them from cell death.

In a review article published in the British Journal of Pharmacology in 2006, Italian researchers found that cannabinoids displayed anticancer effects on many different types of tumor cells including breast cancer cells, prostate cancer cells, rat glioma cells, human astrocitoma, human gioblastoma, thyroid cells, mouse skin carcinoma, and human umbilical vein endothelial cells.

Of course, most of the studies to date have focused on the anti-cancer properties of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is the main psychoactive component of cannabis. In fact, the antitumorigenic effects of THC have been known since the 1970s.

For example, a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in 1975 found that Cannabinol and Δ8-THC inhibited tumor growth in a mouse model of Lewis lung adenocarcinoma after 20 days of treatment, whereas cannabidiol and Δ9-THC failed to show any effect. In another study by the National Toxicology Program which was published in 1996, researchers looked into the effects of THC on tumors using rodents. Groups of mice and rats were fed various doses of THC mixed with corn oil and the researchers were able to observe a dose-related decrease in the incidence of hepatic adenoma tumors and hepatocellular carcinoma in the mice. Adenoma is a type of non-cancerous (benign) tumor that may affect various organs