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Cancer – Medical Marijuana Research Overview

The following information is presented for educational purposes only. Medical Marijuana Inc. provides this information to provide an understanding of the potential applications of cannabidiol. Links to third party websites do not constitute an endorsement of these organizations by Medical Marijuana Inc. and none should be inferred.

Cancer is a potentially fatal disease caused by abnormal cells in the body that divide and spread into surrounding tissues. Studies have shown marijuana has the capability of helping cancer patients manage the nausea, pain, and weight loss related to cancer treatments, and even limit the growth or kill cancer cells.

Overview of Cancer

Cancer is a term used to classify a large group of diseases that develop because of abnormal cells dividing and growing uncontrollably. Normal body cells continuously grow, divide and die. Cancer cells will continue to grow, rather than die, and they can invade and damage other tissues. Most of the time, cancer cells form a tumor, which can invade nearby normal tissue and crowd it out or push it aside. In a process referred to as metastasis, cancer cells can travel to other parts of body through the bloodstream of lymph vessels. If left untreated, cancers can cause serious illness and death. According to the American Cancer Society, there are over 1.6 million new cases of cancer in the United States every year.

Cancer is considered a genetic disease because it is associated with changes to the genes that control the way our cells function. Although these changes can be inherited, they can also develop during a person’s lifetime. There are more than 100 different types of cancers, which are commonly named for the organs or tissues from where they form.

Evidence suggests that cannabis has the potential of inhibiting the growth of and even killing cancer cells. Cannabis has also demonstrated efficacy at helping patients manage the side effects associated with cancer treatments113.

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Cannabis & Cancer What Research has Found

Cannabis’s Potential in the Global Cancer Market

Major Findings

While most studies investigating cannabis’ therapeutic potential for cancer have been preclinical, findings have shown exciting promise. Major cannabinoids found in cannabis, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), have shown efficacy at inhibiting the progression of cancer. In culture and animal models, the cannabinoids have limited the growth and even killed cancerous cells, suggesting potential for mediating cancer cell death in human subjects20,78.

Cannabis has also long proven beneficial for managing the symptoms associated with the disease and its treatments. Cannabinoids have proven effective at treating the more difficult to control symptoms of nausea, as well as preventing anticipatory nausea, in patients undergoing chemotherapy59. Another study found THC was effective at reducing conditioned rejection and chemotherapy-induced nausea57.

Cannabis has also been shown effective at lowering neuropathic pain that traditional treatment methods were unable to manage121

Weight loss due to nausea and a loss of appetite are common side effects of cancer treatment. THC, however, has shown to significantly stimulate appetite in patients that have cachexia related to cancer49. In addition, patients treated with THC have a larger appetite and report that food “tastes better”11.

Published Clinical Studies

25% Of Cancer Patients Use Marijuana Where It’s Legal, Study Finds (October 5, 2017)

Study Finds Cannabis Has Anti-Tumor Effects (June 30, 2017)

Cannabinoids a Potential “Weapon” Against Cancer, Review Concludes (June 16, 2017)

CBD Fights Cancer Through Various Mechanisms, Review Finds (June 15, 2017)

Study Examines How Cannabinoids Elicit Anti-Cancer Effects (June 12, 2017)

How Does Cannabis Fit into Cancer Care? A Study Investigates (June 9, 2017)

Cannabinoids and Chemotherapy Combine for Superior Anti-Leukemia Effects, Study Finds (June 7, 2017)

Review Investigates Cannabinoids for Treating Children with Cancer (May 22, 2017)

Study Says CBD is Potentially Beneficial for Fighting Cervical Cancer Cells (May 19, 2017)

CBD Helps Treat Neuroblastoma in Kids, Study Suggests (May 18, 2017)

Cannabinoids May Help Treat Certain Skin Diseases, New Research Finds (May 5, 2017)

CBDA Fights Breast Cancer, Study Finds (August 26, 2016)

Studies/References:

  1. Benz, A. H., Renné, C., Maronde, E., Koch, M., Grabiec, U., Kallendrusch, S., Rengstl, B., Newrzela, S., Hartmann, S., Hansmann, M.L., and Dehghani, F. (2013). Expression and Functional Relevance of Cannabinoid Receptor 1 in Hodgkin Lymphoma. PLoS ONE, 8(12), e81675. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3857220/?report=reader.
  2. Blázquez, C., Casanova, M.L., Planas, A., Gómez Del Pulgar, T., Villanueva, C., Fernández-Aceñero, M.J., Aragonés, J., Huffman, J.W., Jorcano, J.L., Guzmán, M. (2003, March). Inhibition of tumor angiogenesis by cannabinoids. FASEB Journal, 17(3), 529-31. Retrieved from http://www.fasebj.org/content/early/2003/03/02/fj.02-0795fje.long.
  3. Blazquez, C., Gonzalez-Feria, L., Alvarez, L., Haro, A., Casanova, M.L., and Guzman, M. (2004, August 15). Cannabinoids inhibit the vascular endothelial growth factor pathway in gliomas. Cancer Research, 64(16), 5617-23. Retrieved from http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/64/16/5617.long.
  4. Blázquez, C., Carracedo, A., Barrado, L., Real, P.J., Fernández-Lun, J.L., Velasco, G., Malumbres, M., and Guzmán, M. (2006, December) Cannabinoid receptors as novel targets for the treatment of melanoma. FASEB Journal, 20(14), 2633-5. Retrieved from http://www.fasebj.org/content/20/14/2633.long.
  5. Brisbois, T.D., de Kock, I.H., Watanabe, S.M., Mirhosseini, M., Lamoureux, D.C., Chasen, M., MacDonald, N., Baracos, V.E., and Wismer, W.V. (2011, February 22). Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol may palliate altered chemosensory perception in cancer patients: results of a randomized-double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot trial. Annals of Oncology, 22, 2086-2093. Retrieved from https://academic.oup.com/annonc/article/22/9/2086/211788/Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol-may-palliate-altered.
  6. Caffarel, M. M., Andradas, C., Mira, E., Pérez-Gómez, E., Cerutti, C., Moreno-Bueno, G., Flores, J.M., Garcia-Real, I., Palacios, J., Manes, S., Guzman, M., and Sánchez, C. (2010). Cannabinoids reduce ErbB2-driven breast cancer progression through Akt inhibition. Molecular Cancer, 9, 196. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2917429/.
  7. Carracedo, A., Lorente, M., Egia, A., Blázquez, C., García, S., Giroux, V., Malicet, C., Villuendas, R., Gironella, M., González-Feria, L., Piris, M.A., Iovanna, J.L., Guzmán, M., Velasco, G. (2006, April). The stress-regulated protein p8 mediates cannabinoid-induced apoptosis of tumor cells. Cancer Cell, 9(4), 301-12. Retrieved from http://www.cell.com/cancer-cell/fulltext/S1535-6108(06)00085-7.
  8. Casanova, M.L., Blázquez, C., Martínez-Palacio, J., Villanueva, C., Fernández-Aceñero, M.J., Huffman, J.W., Jorcano, J.L., and Guzmán, M. (2003). Inhibition of skin tumor growth and angiogenesis in vivo by activation of cannabinoid receptors. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 111(1), 43–50. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC151833/.
  9. Cudaback, E., Marrs, W., Moeller, T., and Stella, N. (2010). The Expression Level of CB1 and CB2 Receptors Determines Their Efficacy at Inducing Apoptosis in Astrocytomas. PLoS ONE, 5(1), e8702. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2806825/.
  10. De Petrocellis, L., Melck, D., Palmisano, A., Bisogno, T., Laezza, C., Bifulco, M., and Di Marzo, V. (1998). The endogenous cannabinoid anandamide inhibits human breast cancer cell proliferation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 95(14), 8375–8380. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC20983/.
  11. Estimated Number of New Cancer Cases and Deaths by Sex, US, 2015. (2015). American Cancer Society. Retrieved from http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@editorial/documents/document/acspc-044514.pdf.
  12. Galve-Roperh, I., Sanchez, C., Cortes, M.L., Gomez del Pulgar, T., Izquiero, M., and Guzman, M. (2000, March). Anti-tumoral action of cannabinoids: Involvement of sustained ceramide accumulation and extracellular signal-regulated kinase activation. Nature Medicine, 6(3), 313-9. Retrieved from http://www.nature.com/nm/journal/v6/n3/full/nm0300_313.html.
  13. Glodde, N., Jakobs, M., Bald, T., Tuting, T., and Gaffal, E. (2015, October 1). Differential role of cannabinoids in the pathogenesis of skin cancer. Life Sciences, 138, 35-40. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0024320515002209.
  14. Gómez Del Pulgar, T., De Ceballos, M.L., Guzmán, M., and Velasco, G. (2002, September). Cannabinoids Protect Astrocytes from Ceramide-induced Apoptosis through the Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinase/Protein Kinase B Pathway. The Journal of Biological Chemistry, 277(30), 36527-33. Retrieved from http://www.jbc.org/content/277/39/36527.long.
  15. Gustafsson, K., Christensson, B., Sander, B., and Fiygare, J. (2006, November). Cannabinoid Receptor-Mediated Apoptosis Induced by R(+)-Methanandamide and Win55,212-2 Is Associated with Ceramide Accumulation and p38 Activation in Mantle Cell Lymphoma. Molecular Pharmacology, 70(5), 1612-20. Retrieved from http://molpharm.aspetjournals.org/content/70/5/1612.long.
  16. Gustafsson, K., Wang, X., Severa, D., Eriksson, M., Kimby, E., Merup, M., Christensson, B., Flygare, J., and Sander, B. (2008, September 1). Expression of cannabinoid receptors type 1 and type 2 in non-Hodgkin lymphoma: growth inhibition by receptor activation. International Journal of Cancer, 123(5), 1025-33. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ijc.23584/full.
  17. Gustafsson, K., Sander, B., Bielawski, J., Hannun, Y.A., and Flygare, J. (2009). Potentiation of cannabinoid-induced cytotoxicity in Mantle Cell Lymphoma through modulation of ceramide metabolism. Molecular Cancer Research : MCR, 7(7), 1086–1098. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3077284/.
  18. Guzmán, M., Duarte, M.J., Blázquez, C., Ravina, J., Rosa, M.C., Galve-Roperh, I., Sanchez, C., Velasco, G., and González-Feria, L. (2006). A pilot clinical study of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol in patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme. British Journal of Cancer, 95(2), 197–203. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2360617/.
  19. Guzmán, M., Galve-Roperh, I., and Sánchez, C. (2001, January). Ceramide: a new second messenger of cannabinoid action. Trends in Pharmacological Sciences, 22(1), 19-22. Retrieved from http://www.cell.com/trends/pharmacological-sciences/fulltext/S0165-6147(00)01586-8.
  20. Hamtiaux, L., Hansoulle, L., Dauguet, N., Muccioli, G.G., Gallez, B., and Lambert, D.M. (2011). Increasing Antiproliferative Properties of Endocannabinoids in N1E-115 Neuroblastoma Cells through Inhibition of Their Metabolism. PLoS ONE, 6(10), e26823. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3203169/.
  21. Hashibe, M., Morgenstern, H., Cui, Y., Tashkin, D.P., Zhang, Z.F., Cozen, W., Mack, T.M., and Greenland, S. (2006, October). Marijuana use and the risk of lung and upper aerodigestive tract cancers: results of a population-based case-control study. Cancer Epidemiology: Biomarkers & Prevention, 15(10), 1829-34. Retrieved from http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/content/15/10/1829.long.
  22. Hernán Pérez de la Ossa, D., Gil-Alegre, M.E., Ligresti, A., del Rosario Aberturas, M., Molpeceres, J., Torres, A.I., and Di Marzo, V. (2013). Preparation and characterisation of biodegradable microparticles filled with THC and their antitumor efficacy on cancer cell lines. Journal of Drug Targeting, early online, 1-9. Retrieved from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.3109/1061186X.2013.809089?needAccess=true.
  23. Herrera, B., Carracedo, A., Diez-Zaera, M., Gomez del Pulgar, T., Guzman, M., and Velasco, G. (2006, July 1). The CB2 cannabinoid receptor signals apoptosis via ceramide-dependent activation of the mitochondrial intrinsic pathway. Experimental Cell Research, 312(11), 2121-31. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0014482706001066.
  24. Islam, T.C., Asplund, A.C., Lindvall, J.M., Nygren, L., Liden, J., Kimby, E., Christensson, B., Smith, C.I., Sander B. (2003, September). High level of cannabinoid receptor 1, absence of regulator of G protein signalling 13 and differential expression of Cyclin D1 in mantle cell lymphoma. Leukemia, 17(9), 1880-90. Retrieved from http://www.nature.com/leu/journal/v17/n9/full/2403057a.html.
  25. Jatoi, A., Windschitl, H.E., Loprinzi, C.L., Sloan, J.A., Dakhil, S.R., Mailliard, J.A., Pundaleeka, S., Kardinal, C.G., Fitch, T.R., Krook, J.E., Novotny, P.J. and Christensen, B. (2002). Dronabinol versus megestrol acetate versus combination therapy for cancer-associated anorexia: a North Central Cancer Treatment Group study. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 20(2), 567-73. Retrieved from http://ascopubs.org/doi/full/10.1200/JCO.2002.20.2.567.
  26. Lakiotaki, E., Giaginis, C., Tolia, M., Alexandrou, P., Delladetsima, I., Giannopoulou, I., Kyrgias, G. Patsouris, E.., and Theocharis, S. (2015). Clinical Significance of Cannabinoid Receptors CB1 and CB2 Expression in Human Malignant and Benign Thyroid Lesions. BioMed Research International, 2015, 839403. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4619873/.
  27. Limebeer, C.L., and Parker, L.A. (1999, December 16). Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol interferes with the establishment and the expression of conditioned rejection reactions produced by cyclophosphamide: a rat model of nausea. Neuroreport, 10(19), 3769-72. Retrieved from http://journals.lww.com/neuroreport/pages/articleviewer.aspx?year=1999&issue=12160&article=00009&type=abstract.
  28. Machado Rocha, F.C., Stefano, S.C., De Cassia Haiek, R., Rosa Oliveira, L.M., and Da Silveira, D.X. (2008, September). Therapeutic use of Cannabis sativa on chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting among cancer patients: systematic review and meta-analysis. European Journal of Cancer Care, 17(5), 431-43. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/wol1/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2354.2008.00917.x/full.
  29. McAllister S.D., Chan, C., Taft, R.J., Luu, T., Abood, M.E., Moore, D.H., Aldape, K., and Yount, G. (2005, August). Cannabinoids selectively inhibit proliferation and induce death of cultured human glioblastoma multiforme cells. Journal of Neuro-oncology, 74(1), 31-40. Retrieved from http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11060-004-5950-2.
  30. McKallip, R.J., Lombard, C., Fisher, M., Martin, B.R., Ryu, S., Grant, S., Nagarkatti, P.S., and Nagarkatti, M. (2002, July 15). Targeting CB2 cannabinoid receptors as a novel therapy to treat malignant lymphoblastic disease. Blood, 100(2), 627-34. Retrieved from http://www.bloodjournal.org/content/100/2/627.long?sso-checked=true.
  31. Montalbano, R., Honrath, B., Wissniowski, T. T., Elxnat, M., Roth, S., Ocker, M., Quint, K., Churin, Y, Roederfeld, M., Schroeder, D., Glebe, D., Roeb, E., and Fazio, P. D. (2016). Exogenous hepatitis B virus envelope proteins induce endoplasmic reticulum stress: involvement of cannabinoid axis in liver cancer cells. Oncotarget, 7(15), 20312–20323. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4991457/.
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  • Eve Ripley