Study Shows Cannabis Fights Brain Cancer


Whenever medical marijuana is mentioned, the image of people with chronic pain and other painful illnesses comes to mind. The mainstream image of medical marijuana is that it can help treat pain, nausea, and even epileptic seizures; that is to say, medical marijuana helps people with their symptoms and does not actively fight the illness.

However, according to a new study published in the journal Molecular Cancer Therapies, marijuana can do more than fight your aches and pains; it can also fight aggressive brain cancer.

The study, conducted by a team of researchers at St. George’s University of London, looked at high-grade glioma, which is an incredibly aggressive form of brain cancer. The long term survival rate of patients with this disease is incredibly low, and treatments for the disease have an even lower success rate.

The researchers found that cannabinoids inhibit glioma growth as well as neutralize oncogenic processesi.e. cancer creation, such as malignant tumor formation. The cannabinoids were administered in several different forms. Researchers administered a pure CDB extract, a pure THC extract, a cannabis plant high in THC and a cannabis plant high in CBD

While the pure THC was effective, the cannabis plant high in THC was more effective. Conversely, the pure CBD extract was more effective than the CBD-only marijuana plant. Oddly enough when both the THC and CBD extract were taken together, in lower doses, researchers were able to get the best results. It seems like THC and CBD have special relationship that we don’t yet understand.

Researchers found that the cannabinoids were not only able to inhibit and kill cancer growth, but also increase the radiosensitivity in the cancer cells, priming the cells to better respond to the radiation. An easier way to look at it is to say that the cannabinoids lowered the defenses of the cancer cells and made them easier to destroy or inhibit with radiation.

Despite promising results, some individuals were skeptical because the best results were achieved in conjunction with radiation. On the website The Conversation, lead researcher Dr. Wei Liu published an article that explained the results of the study.

When asked in the comment section about how their discovery would affect the five year survival rate of those with high-grade glioma, Liu said, “When people ask ‘was it actually the best?’ my answer would be I do not know, but it was at the time the best of what we tested … let’s test this in clinical studies. If others show that cannabinoids work best alone, then great! More information to support its use, and I would certainly then lobby for it to be used that way.”

Although no definitive conclusion can be drawn from this study, this is still an exciting breakthrough in cannabis research. Typically when people think about making money in cannabis, they think about selling bongs and bags of cannabis; they usually don’t think about funding cannabis research.

However, there is a lot of money to be made in clinical research and pharmaceuticals. Wouldn’t it be nice to be the person who funded a potential cure for cancer? You may have gotten into the cannabis industry to invest in edibles and pipes, but this might be a more profitable and less traveled path.

William Sumner, a freelance writer and marijuana journalist, was a staff writer for MJINews from May 2014 through February 2018. You can follow him on Twitter @W_Sumner.

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