Breast cancer affects both men and women, but it is far more common in women. It accounts for 15.2% of all new cancer diagnosis in the United States. With the statistics looking so grim, there is a need to explore all possible therapies, including medical marijuana, to help manage the disease. Medical marijuana is a relatively new kind of treatment. Most of it hasn’t gone through clinical trials, and it is mostly, used as a dietary supplement. Conventional cancer treatment methods, including chemotherapy and radiotherapy, induce nausea and vomiting. Cannabinoids have proven the ability to alleviate both of these symptoms, among other things.
But how, exactly, does cannabis affect breast cancer? In what ways can cannabis help patients deal with some of the more challenging side effects of their cancer treatment? And if you’re considering incorporating cannabis into your treatment regimen or suggesting it to a loved one, what do you need to know to get started?
Cannabinoids and Breast Cancer
According to research THC, CBD and other cannabinoids have demonstrated the ability to stymie the progress of tumors in breast cancer. Cannabinoids reduce such progression by connecting with the cannabinoid receptors in the cancer cells.
There are also other ways that these cannabinoids prevent the growth of tumors without the involvement of receptors. By working on cell signalling pathways that facilitate the growth of cancer, cell pathways prevent tumors in breast from metastasizing. They can also help avert tumour necrosis, mainly when you apply sprayable marijuana for breast cancer regularly.
Animal breast cancer models used in the research indicate that cannabinoids are useful in both estrogen receptor and estrogen resistant breast cancers. No similar tests have been done on human subjects, but there is a good chance that cannabinoids may work the same way in humans.
The optimism is based on the fact that cannabinoids interact in the same way in humans and the animals used in trials. Therefore, we can try medical marijuana for breast cancer treatment.
How Can Cannabis Help?
A recent study from the California Pacific Medical Research Center stated that CBD, the non-intoxicating compound in cannabis, can inhibit metastasis and prevent the growth of breast cancer cells in the body. The study’s lead researcher, Dr. Sean Allister, has been studying CBD and found that CBD was effective in inhibiting metastasis while providing a safer alterative for patients who didn’t see any improvements with chemotherapy. An Israeli study also found that CBD is an antineoplastic agent, which means that it can prevent and even stop the development of tumors.
Spanish researchers also released a study in the journal Molecular Cancer where they analyzed the potential of THC to kill tumors combined with a synthetic cannabinoid similar to CBD. The results showed that both THC and CBD had valuable anti-cancer benefits in the animal subjects. Both cannabinoids were effective in inhibiting cancer growth, reducing tumors, and decreasing the severity and quantity of metastases. The researchers also studied the effects of cannabis on 87 human breast tumors, and found that the cannabinoids showed potential in inhibiting cell proliferation while inducing aptosis or programmed cell death.
While cannabis has been shown to be beneficial in treating the disease by halting its spread in the body, it’s also extremely useful in addressing the side effects of the condition as well as treatment. Cannabis helps reduce the anxiety that is experienced by patients of terminal conditions as well as pain.
Cannabis has given hope to thousands of women with breast cancer by preventing its spread, killing it in its tracks, helping manage the side effects of chemotherapy, and by causing cancer cell death.
While there is still more research that needs to be done on how cannabis affects breast cancer directly, there is plenty of evidence for how cannabis can help cancer patients better manage the side effects of their cancer treatment—starting with pain management.
So, is cannabis currently an approved treatment for breast cancer? No. But does the plant show potential that warrants more research? Yes.