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A growing body of research spanning multiple decades suggests that cannabis extracts may hold potential as new cancer medicine.
Scientists and medical researchers continue to build on previous findings, buy they also advise caution, calling for more research.
It’s important to note that most of the research has been done in laboratories where the cannabis extracts are injected into mice – not inhaled or ingested.
In some cases, however, human cancer cells and tumours were examined.
Concrete proof of how different kinds of cancer respond to specific compounds in cannabis extracts is probably years away. Still, cautious optimism may be warranted.
Here’s what we know so far:
A study done by researchers at the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Indiana was published in Cancer and Metastasis Review in October 2011. It said that:
“The literature is nearly unanimous in suggesting that cannabinoids and endocannabinoids reduce the progression of cancer in preclinical model systems.”
A research paper published in the prestigious British Journal of Pharmacology in 2011 summed it up this way:
“What has emerged from these initial discoveries is one of the most fascinating stories in modern neuroscience…”
“Cannabis-like compounds offer therapeutic potential for the treatment of breast, prostate and bone cancer in patients,” says the paper.
Other scientific research has shown that:
THC and CBD may slow down or stop the growth of cancer cells involving the brain, lung, breast, liver and skin.
The cannabinoid ‘anandamide’ was shown to inhibit the growth of malignant melanoma cells in humans in 2013.
A correlation between cannabinoid receptors and glioblastoma, an aggressive cancer that starts in the brain or spine, has been suggested since 2001 and has since been confirmed in multiple studies.
Higher levels of cannabinoid receptors have been isolated in certain types of ovarian and prostate tumors.
In pancreatic tumors, higher volumes of cannabinoids were shown in patients with shorter survival time (median 6 months).
A connection between Hodgkin’s lymphoma cells and cannabinoid receptors was found in 2013.
Breast cancer cells were found to contain cannabinoid receptors in 2006.
Stage IV colorectal cancer CB1 levels were found to be a factor of bad prognosis following surgery.