The Differences Between Malignant & Benign Cancer
Cancer is the name given to a collection of related diseases. In all types of cancer the body’s cells begin to divide and spread into surrounding tissues.
Unlike most benign tumors elsewhere in the body, benign brain tumors can be life threatening.
Cancer can start almost anywhere in the body, which is made up of trillions of cells. Normally, human cells grow and divide to form new cells as the body needs them. When cells grow old or become damaged, they die, and new cells take their place. Unlike malignant tumors, benign tumors do not spread into nearby tissues. Benign tumors can sometimes be quite large.
When removed, benign tumors usually don’t grow back, whereas malignant tumors sometimes do.
Oncologists, more than doctors in any other discipline within medicine, are documented as to supporting the option of recommending cannabis as part of a treatment program for patients suffering from cancer.
Cannabis Cures Cancer?
Abrams provides integrative medicine consultations for cancer patients and has completed research into the medical use of cannabis. Abrams cautions on the use of the term cure.
“Cure is a huge word in oncology. It usually implies that the patient has survived 5 years without evidence of their cancer. We are able to cure more cancers today than we were when I began my career as an oncologist and that has been through advances in diagnosis and treatment with conventional therapies.”
Currently the only evidence that we have regarding cannabis oil cancer treating properties is anecdotal, Virtually all the scientific research investigating whether cannabinoids can treat cancer has been carried out using cancer cells grown in the laboratory or testing on animal models. It’s important to be cautious with these results.
However, cannabis has been proposed to alleviate symptoms of cancer, including reduced appetite, chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting, pain and there is evidence to show that it has the ability to attenuate the disease process.
Through detailed experiments scientists have discovered that cannabinoids exhibit a wide range of effects in the laboratory, including:triggering cell death through a mechanism called apoptosis, a function that works by stopping cells from dividing.
Cannabinoids also show promise in preventing new blood vessels from growing into tumors, reduce the chances of cancer cells spreading through the body by stopping cells from invading neighboring tissue and speeding up autophagy which can lead to cell death. These are detailed in the journal Nature Reviews Cancer.
The BBC’s Alastair Leithead reports on how evidence is growing that cannabis could cure diseases like cancer.
The medical value of cannabis has been hotly debated for years.
Its use as a relaxant or a pain reliever is widely accepted now. Sarah and her family are running out of time,
she has stage four cancer, there is no stage five and the chemotherapy is not working.
Her doctors say there is nothing more they can do. So far, the best results in the laboratory using animal models have come from trialing a combination of highly purified tetrahydrocannibol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
However, researchers have also found positive results using synthetic cannabinoids such as a molecule called JWH-133, although further studies are confusing as CBD was trialed alone and researchers found that CBD may help prevent cancer from spreading.
Researchers at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco reported in 2007 that cannabidiol stops cancer by turning off a gene called Id-1.
The researchers studied breast cancer cells in the laboratory that had high expression levels of Id-1 and treated them with cannabidiol.
After treatment the cells had decreased Id-1 expression and were less aggressive spreaders. At present though data still shows contradictory results.
The promise of cannabinoids as anti-tumor agents stems from pre-clinical research using either cultured cells derived from human or rodent tumors, or mouse tumor models.
These initial studies are insufficient to satisfy stringent criteria for recommending cannabis testing on human cancers.
Cell cultures have yielded contradictory results with THC potentiating or inhibiting tumor proliferation as a function of tumor type and its pathology.
In one small Phase I trial of nine patients with aggressive glioblastoma multiforme THC did not extend the life span of these patients.
During autophagy, cells disassemble any damaged parts they have floating around inside of them. Apoptosis can be thought of as cell suicide. During apoptosis, the cell begins to cleave or break itself into various parts.
The parts are then cleaned up by other cells in the immune system. While autophagy is often seen as a way to stave off apoptosis, cannabinoids like THC and CBD stimulate both of these processes in cancer cells when tested in animal models.
There is growing scientific and anecdotal evidence showing that cannabis oil containing higher levels of cannabidiol in a ratio of 1:1 (THC/CBD) works with many kinds of aggressive cancers.
Cancers that demonstrate a positive response include breast, brain and prostate cancer, in which high levels of ID-1 are present.
Worldwide, breast cancer comprises 10.4% of all cancer incidence among women, making it the second most common type of non-skin cancer (after lung cancer) and the fifth most common cause of cancer death. In 2004, breast cancer caused 519,000 deaths worldwide (7% of cancer deaths; almost 1% of… read more
Cannabinoid receptors as novel targets for the treatment of melanoma (pdf)
Melanoma is a particularly aggressive form of skin cancer thought to be triggered by exposure to UV light rays which cause cells to mutate.
However, melanoma can also develop on the soles of the feet or other non-exposed areas.
This form of cancer initially mutates in the skin, but If left untreated it can quickly spread throughout the body.
Melanoma causes the greatest number of skin cancer-related deaths worldwide, in 2005, an estimated 59,600 Americans were diagnosed with this cancer and 7,800 died of it.
Despite intensive research, prevention and early detection are the only effective measures against melanoma, so new therapeutic strategies are necessary for the management of this potentially devastating disease.
A study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology reported on treated mice graphed with melanoma cells using a cannabis oil preparation consisting of tetrahydrocannibol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
In the study, researchers from Italy, Spain and England found that the combination triggered the death of melanoma cells.
The cannabinoids did this by facilitating the two natural processes of cell death (autophagy and apoptosis).
Human melanomas and melanoma cell lines express CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors.
Activation of these receptors decreased growth, proliferation, angiogenesis and metastasis, and increased apoptosis, of melanomas in the mice.
There is some documented evidence that cannabinoids could possibly have potentially undesirable effects on cancer.
Researchers have found that although high doses of THC can kill cancer cells they may also harm crucial blood vessel cells, although arguably this may actually help to fight the cancer by preventing blood vessels growing into a tumor,
This is detailed in a report published in 2010 by the Department of Pharmacology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.
Using cannabis oil as a suppository can drastically reduce the psychoactive effect and increase the available cannabinoids.
For such reasons there is doubt whether cannabis will find widespread clinical application, except among those who have previously used it for non-medical purposes, however, using cannabis oil as a suppository can drastically reduce the psychoactive effect and increase the available cannabinoids.
In the U.S. today several states have passed laws making medical marijuana legal, including concentrated cannabis oil, but the federal government will not allow patients to use the treatments.
A number of governments, including the U.S. Federal Government, allow treatment with one or more specific low doses of synthetic (artificial) cannabinoids available as prescription drugs and produced in laboratories by multi-national drug companies.
Examples of these synthetic chemical based copies are Marinol (The United States and Canada – $652 for 30 x 10 mg doses), Nabilone ($4000.00 for a year’s supply in Canada) and Cesamet, legal in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and the United States (200 pills cost $710.00 in Canada).
Sativex Fails Cancer Trials
These countries and others have now also granted a license to GW Pharmaceuticals a British biopharmaceutical company known for its multiple sclerosis treatment product Sativex.
This is the first natural cannabis plant derivative to gain market approval in any country.
Sativex is an alcohol based spray or ‘tincture’ as it is correctly known, containing THC and CBD extracted from cannabis plants and prescribed for mucosal administration (basically you spray it under your tongue).
GW pharmaceuticles who market Sativex are actually repeating a process that was pioneered by Dr. William Brooke O’Shaughnessy (1809-1889) but they do not use the full profile of cannabinoids, rather they extract the two main components (THC and CBD) in the laboratory and market this as a treatment.
Cannabinoids are shown to work in synergy, basically each molecule has evolved to compliment the other so by extracting just two from over 110 separate cannabinoids contained within the cannabis plant they are denying patients access to the full spectrum of cannabinoids.
It comes as no surprise that after rigorous testing Sativex was shown to have no benefit to cancer patients when compared to a placebo. Denise Roland reported on the 8th January 2015 in the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph::
“Shares in GW Pharmaceuticals embarked on a roller-coaster ride on Thursday after it delivered a mixed bag of news on its drugs pipeline.The company, which develops medicine from the cannabis plant, disappointed investors with news its experimental cancer pain treatment proved ineffective in a recent clinical trial. But it tempered the bad news with an upbeat update on its research program into severe childhood epilepsy.”
US Government Finally Admits Cannabis Kills Cancer Cells
Interestingly David Raven from the Daily Mirror newspaper, under the sensational headline, “US government finally admits that cannabis kills cancer cells,” reported in August of the same year (2015):
“A health researcher on the US government’swebsite claimed: “Studies in mice and rats have shown that cannabinoids may inhibit tumor growth by causing cell death, blocking cell growth, and blocking the development of blood vessels needed by tumors to grow.
Laboratory and animal studies have shown that cannabinoids may be able to kill cancer cells while protecting normal cells.” He went on to add:
“Key chemical ingredients in marijuana were found effective in fighting against colon cancer, liver cancer, breast cancer and several other forms of the disease.
It was also suggested that cannabidiol can boost the effectiveness of chemotherapy – without any of the nasty side effects.”
The patent (US6630507) is titled “Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants” and was awarded to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in October 2003.
It was filed four years earlier, in 1999, by a group of scientists from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), which is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The patent claims exclusive rights on the use of cannabinoids for treating neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and stroke, and diseases caused by oxidative stress, such as heart attack, Crohn’s disease, diabetes and arthritis.
There is still much debate over cannabis use for cancer as to whether it offers some hope to patients. Cancers are uniquely different in each individual and whilst many have reported surprising results through its use, others have shown no response at all.
There is no doubt that cannabis has a place alongside conventional treatments and is shown to have efficacy with regard to palliative care, however, as Dr Abrams points out:
“A large proportion of the patients I have treated have used cannabis. If cannabis definitively cured cancer, I would have expected that I would have a lot more survivors. That being said, what we do know is that cannabis is truly an amazing medicine for many cancer and treatment-related side effects – nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, pain, depression, anxiety and insomnia.”
If you need any advice or help please use the contact form provided. We try to answer all emails within 24 hours and are happy to help and advise on all aspects of medical marijuana treatments in complete confidence.