The colon is an incredibly important part of the digestive tract because it absorbs water and nutrients from food, and then rids the body of harmful toxins and waste material. Colon cancer develops when cancer cells invade the tissues of the colon.
The colon, also known as the longest part of the large intestine, is divided into 4 parts. The 4 parts are known as the ascending colon, transverse colon, descending colon, and the final part before the rectum is the sigmoid colon. The National Cancer Institute estimates 96,000 new cases of colon cancer in the United States in 2014.
Symptoms of colon cancer include:
- Blood in the stool
- Weight loss
- Change in bowl movements
Listed below are the top 5 most commonly used treatment options for colon cancer:
- Surgery- Lumpectomy or Mastectomy
- Radiation– External or Internal
- Chemotherapy- Oral or Intravenous
- Targeted Therapy uses antibodies, drugs or other substances to target ONLY cancer cells without harming normal cells. This is a difficult process to achieve.
The treatment options listed above are invasive, and often leave the patient with more severe symptoms and suffering than what the cancer caused in the first place. For this reason, the search for alternate treatments options are under way.
Cannabis as an Effective Cancer Treatment Option
One segment of newer exploration is the use of medicinal marijuana. Cannabis is showing signs of hope as an effective cancer treatment. There are several studies to support the use of cannabis to treat cancer symptoms as well as fight the growth of tumors.
One such study published in April 2014 by Phytomedicine is titled “Inhibition of colon carcinogenesis by a standardized Cannabis sativa extract with high content of cannabidiol.” This study found that cannabidiol (CBD) inhibits growth of colon tumor cells without inhibiting the growth of healthy cells. This means that the cannabinoid, CBD, was able to specifically target the cancer cells without effecting normal, healthy cells in the same area.
According to a study published by the American Journal of Cancer Research, the human DNA-binding protein inhibitor, ID1, plays a large role in cell growth. This means that it, also, plays a role in the growth of cancer while the cancer cells are growing. This study found that cannabinoids such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), slow the role of the ID1, thereby reducing the rate at which the cancer spreads. The same result was found in a study of the effects of cannabis therapy on brain tumors. The study conducted at St. George’s University of London found that cannabinoids are able to effectively destroy brain cancer cells by interfering with the development of cancerous cells and even halting the growth completely.
Another study published by the Journal of Pharmacology, also, studied the anti-tumor effects of Cannabinoids. This found that Cannabidol combined with the chemotherapy drug Temozolomide (TMZ) not only significantly inhibited the growth of human cancer cells, but also reduced the size of tumors. Another study published by the US National Library of Medicine had the same results when testing the effects of cannabidiol (CBD) on the growth and spread of cancer.
The same results were found in a study published by Nature Reviews Cancer in May 2012. In this study, cannabinoids were found to cause cell apoptosis, which means that the cannabis promoted cell death. This is important because cancer is caused by a build-up of cells that refuse to die. Cannabinoids reminds those cells that death is an important part of the cell life cycle. This study also found that cannabinoids stop cancer cells from dividing and spreading to neighboring tissues.
Will cannabis be added to the list of cancer treatment options in the future? There is still research to be done on the topic, but the initial findings look promising. There is evidence supporting the successful use of cannabinoids to treat the symptoms caused by cancer and commonly used cancer treatments, as well as to prevent the growth and spread of tumors in the first place. Cannabis was used in ancient medicine, and it looks as though it is making a come back.