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Tumors – 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.

A tumor is an abnormal growth of cells that can potentially be cancerous. Studies have shown cannabis has antitumor effects and can limit tumor growth and encourage cancer cell death.

Overview of Tumors

A tumor is an abnormal mass of body tissue. They can be cancerous or noncancerous. Tumors develop as a result of cells dividing and growing excessively. Cell growth and division is normal, and typically the body manages the creation of new cells to replace older or damaged ones. When proper cell growth and death is disturbed, however, a tumor can result.

The underlying cause of a tumor can be related to a problem with the body’s immune system. Drinking too much alcohol, exposure to environmental toxins, excessive sunlight exposure, genetic problems, obesity, radiation exposure and viruses are also risk factors of cancerous tumors.

The symptoms associated with tumors depend on the tumor’s type and location. Tumors located in the colon, for example, can cause diarrhea, constipation, weight loss, blood in the stool, and iron deficiency anemia. Lung tumors can cause coughing, chest pain and shortness of breath. Other symptoms of tumors can include chills, fatigue, fever, loss of appetite, malaise, night sweats and weight loss. Some tumors, however, may not cause any symptoms until they’re at an advanced stage.

Once a tumor is discovered, a biopsy is used to determine whether the tumor is noncancerous or cancerous. If the tumor is noncancerous, treatment may not be necessary but they may be removed for cosmetic reasons. Cancerous tumors, however, must be treated. Possible treatments include chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, biological therapy and targeted cancer therapy.

Findings: Effects of Cannabis on Tumors

Research has shown that cannabis can help inhibit the growth of, and even kill the cells of, cancerous tumors. Major cannabinoids found in cannabis have shown to inhibit the progression of cancers, and in some cases even kill cancerous cells, in preclinical and animal studies18,22,29,34,39.

Cannabis can also help patients manage the symptoms associated with cancerous tumor treatments, such as nausea and pain5. Cannabinoids have shown to help treat even the more difficult to control bouts of nausea and prevent anticipatory nausea in patients undergoing chemotherapy27. One study found that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound found in cannabis, reduced conditioned rejection and chemotherapy-induced nausea28.

Cannabis has also been shown effective at lowering neuropathic pain that traditional treatment methods were unable to manage54.

While weight loss due to nausea and a loss of appetite are common side effects of tumor treatment. THC, has shown to stimulate appetite in patients that have cachexia related to cancer, reducing the risk of unsafe weight loss25. In addition, patients treated with THC have shown to have a larger appetite and report that food “tastes better”44.

States That Have Approved Medical Marijuana for Tumors

While no states have approved medical marijuana specifically for tumors, nearly all states with medical marijuana programs have approved medical marijuana for the treatment of cancer. These states include:  Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia.

Although the state of Maryland hasn’t approved medical marijuana to treat tumors or cancer, it has approved it for the treatment of nausea and chronic pain, which are two symptoms commonly associated with cancer treatment. In addition, in Washington D.C., any condition can be approved for medical marijuana as long as a DC-licensed physician recommends the treatment.

Recent Studies on Cannabis’ Effect on Tumors

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  • January 5, 2016
  • Eve Ripley