Cannabinoids, active components of cannabis and its derivatives exert palliative effects in cancer patients by preventing nausea, vomiting and pain and appetite stimulation. Furthermore, these compounds inhibit the growth of tumor cells in laboratory animals (mice and rats). However, at the moment there is no solid evidence that cannabinoids, whether natural or synthetic, can effectively cure cancer patients, but around the world conduct research to try to prove it.
There is a complete FAQ section (which includes scientific references) on cannabinoids and cancer on the website of Cancer Research UK as well as on the website of the National Cancer Institute of the US. Here is a summary of this information commented.
What is cancer?
Cancer is a broad term used for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control and are usually able to invade other tissues, causing metastasis and high rates of mortality and morbidity. Cancer is not one disease, but many: have been well identified more than 100 different types from a histologically by WHO and, most likely, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of types according to molecular and genetic profiles.
Most cancers are named for the organ or type of cell in which it starts. In addition, different types are usually grouped into the following broad categories:
- Carcinoma: Cancer that begins in the skin or in tissues that line or cover internal organs.
- Sarcoma: Cancer that begins in bone, cartilage, fat, muscle, blood vessels, or other connective or supportive tissue.
- Leukemia cancer that originates in the blood-forming tissues, such as bone marrow, and causes the production of a large number of abnormal blood cells that are incorporated into the blood.
- Lymphoma and myeloma: cancers that begin in cells of the immune system.
- Cancers of the central nervous system: that originate in the brain tissue and spinal cord.
Conclusion: Cancer is a very serious and heterogeneous disease, so its therapeutic struggle remains a very difficult challenge. Therefore, cannabinoids may exert beneficial effects in some cancers, but not in others.
Do cannabinoids inhibit cancer growth? (Research Laboratory)
Virtually all investigations carried out so far on cannabinoids and cancer cells have been performed using cancer cells grown in the laboratory or animal models. According to many scientific studies, different cannabinoids (natural and synthetic) exert a wide range of growth inhibitory effects of cancer cells, including:
- Activation of cell death through a mechanism called apoptosis.
- Suppression of cell division.
- Inhibition of the formation of new blood vessels in tumors, a process called angiogenesis.
- Reducing the chances that cancer cells metastasize to the body, preventing cells migrate and invade surrounding tissues.
- Accelerating the “waste disposal machine” inner cell (a process known as autophagy), which can lead to cell death.
Conclusion: Cannabinoids effective drugs for the treatment of at least some types of cancer in laboratory animals (mice and rats).