A new study from St. George’s University of London has shown that cannabis is effective in the treatment of aggressive brain cancer. The research was recently published in the Molecular Cancer Therapeutics Journal as well as The International Journal of Cancer Research and Treatment.
Dr. Wai Liu, along with a team of researchers, conducted laboratory tests using a number of cannabinoids both in isolation, and in conjunction with radiation therapy to treat aggressive forms of cancer. Both THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) were tested for their effectiveness against the often untreatable form of cancer. Survival rate for patients diagnosed with brain cancer is just 10% within five years of diagnosis, and around 5,200 people lose their lives to the disease per year.
The study found that cannabinoids are able to interfere with the development of cancerous cells and even halt their growth completely, effectively stopping the cancer. In some cases with precise dosage patterns, the scientists even destroyed cancer cells completely.
Dr. Liu told Science Daily, “The benefits of the cannabis plant elements were known before but the drastic reduction of brain cancers if used with irradiation is something new and may well prove promising for patients who are in gravely serious situations with such cancers in the future.”
“This study is a critical step in unpicking the mysteries of cannabis as a source of medicine. The cannabinoids examined have minimal, if any, hallucinogenic side effects, and their properties as anti-cancer agents are promising,” Liu says.
The study is one of many being conducted by St. George that focuses on the treatment of cancer. Subsequent studies will likely focus on the combination of cannabis with more “traditional” forms of cancer treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
A similar study was published in the Journal of Pharmacology back in 2004, showing results of the same nature. The study found that the combination of cannabidiol and the chemotherapy drug Temozolomide (TMZ) not only significantly inhibited cancer growth, but also reduced the size of tumors in lab rats.
Photo Credit: Jan Charles Ekenstam
This post was originally published on November 18, 2014, it was updated on October 5, 2017.