Although there are many speculations around cannabis, THC: CBD ratios and all of cannabis’ health benefits, there is one common fact: cannabis fights cancer cells. The world renown National Cancer Institute, an agency that is part of the department of health, has acknowledged studies that show cannabis does, in fact, kill cancer cells. No matter what side of the fence you are on regarding this topic, research proves that cannabis can offer multiple levels of help to aid in the battle with cancer.
What is Cancer?
The chart below shows the number of people per state who were diagnosed with cancer in 2017. And according to the National Cancer Institute, 38.6% of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer in the US at some point in their lifetime.
So what is cancer? Unlike normal cell growth, cancer is uncontrollable cell division, where cells of the body continue to grow, but don’t die. This is because cancer cells can ignore signals that normally indicate to stop dividing. These cancer cells are then able to persuade the environment that they are in to support them. Because of this persuasion and a new supply of nutrients directed from normal cells to cancerous ones, tumors, or masses of tissue, are able to form.
There are two types of tumors that can result from cancer: benign and malignant.
Benign tumors can arise for many reasons: environmental, genetics, diet, stress, infection, etc. It’s very likely that most lumps that people can feel from the outside of their body are benign, such as many breast lumps. Nine out of 10 women harbor benign tissue transformations. Benign Tumors usually:
Are not cancerous
Won’t transfer to or harm nearby tissues
In order to treat a benign tumor, many doctors just wait it out, as they watch to see whether or not the tumor will spread to any other areas of the body. If so, surgery may be suggested to remove the tumor as it may become malignant.
Malignant tumors can potentially result in death. They are typically formed from unstable, abnormal cells and are able to travel through the bloodstream and circulatory system, as they continue to proliferate. Malignant tumors usually:
Can transfer to or harm nearby tissues
Whereas benign tumors can be addressed by watchful waiting, malignant tumors should be addressed as soon as possible.
In order to treat malignant tumors, many people who have had or currently have cancer and know that it is a very difficult condition to endure and fight, turn to chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
Chemotherapy Cancer Treatment
Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that utilizes drugs in order to kill cancer cells. These drugs may be administered through oral consumption or injection. This occurs through a duration of repetitive treatments followed by days of rest. This therapy procedure is referred to as a systemic one, meaning that it can affect the patient's entire body. While chemo drugs affect cancer cells, they also affect normal, healthy cells. This is because chemo drugs can’t decipher between certain characteristics; example being, if a healthy cell (such as a hair cell) divides quickly, the chemo drug will destroy it. This is why many who experience chemo suffer hair and/or appetite loss.
Radiation Therapy for Cancer Treatment
Radiation therapy serves to combat cancer cells through a process of high-energy radiation via X-rays, gamma rays, and charged particles. Radiation therapy seeks to kill cancer cells by damaging their DNA, thereby ceasing their divide and initiating their death. Similar to chemotherapy, radiation therapy is administered through a duration of treatments and also results in the death of healthy cells. Additionally, radiation treatment has been shown to raise the risk of getting another cancer.
After reading the damaging effects on healthy cells from chemotherapy and radiation therapy, you might think “there’s got to be another way.” We’re here to tell you, there is and it’s found through cannabis. In 2003 the US government patented medical cannabis, US Patent #663057, acknowledging cannabis’s medicinal properties.
Cannabis Fights Cancer
The human body has an endocannabinoid system that responds positively to THC and CBD.
THC is a cannabinoid of cannabis. When THC connects to the cannabinoid receptor on the cancer cell, it causes an increase in ceramide synthesis, which drives cell death. The key to the cure is the accumulation of ceramide. Because of this, cannabinoids can impair tumor progression at various levels. As molecular biologist, Dr. Christina Sanchez comments in her research,
“We observed that when we treated these cells [tumor cells] with cannabinoids, THC, the main psychoactive component of cannabis, was killing the cells in our Petri dishes. We were killing the cells.”
This cellular effect can be achieved by taking minute amounts of cannabis oil through a duration of treatments. And though the repetitive nature is similar, unlike chemotherapy and radiation, with cannabis, healthy cells don’t produce ceramide when THC is present, and therefore are not harmed by its presence. In addition, cannabis can be easily administered orally or through inhalation. Oral cannabis can be consumed in the form of baked goods or herbal tea, although cannabis enters the bloodstream more quickly when smoked or vaporized.
Protection from Developing Cancer through Cannabis
Cannabis extract has been used for many years in the treatment of many illnesses, however, the extracted oil from cannabis has done wonders on cancer treatment and has even helped in eliminating the side effects of chemo and radiation therapies. Some of the benefits of cannabis that are crucial for battling cancer are its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Inflammation is a response by the body’s immune system to injury, bacteria or viruses. And as many chronic inflammatory diseases can increase a person’s cancer risk, cannabis can not only relieve inflammation but cancer it can bring as well. In one study, researchers found that cannabinoids can protect neurons from exposure to glutamate, and compared to the vitamins C and E, cannabis proved to be 30-50% more effective in doing so. Therefore, cannabis has shown its THC and CBD cannabinoids contain antioxidant properties useful in clinical applications. And as the consistent antioxidant intake is beneficial to one's overall well being, this antioxidant-rich plant can serve as a lower risk for cancer.
Here are a few other properties that make cannabis powerful in fighting cancer:
Anti-tumor: inhibits the growth of tumors
Anti-angiogenic: prevents formation of new blood vessels needed by tumors to grow
Anti-metastatic: prevents cancer from spreading to other organs in the body
Apoptosis: induces cell to self-destruct on its own
As you can see, the benefits of cannabis in treating cancer are outstanding. A study conducted in Washington, DC showed that a quarter of cancer patients that use cannabis, use it for pain relief and one third use it for enjoyment, but what about using cannabis to actually treat cancer? Dr. Sanjay Gupta states,
“..it is irresponsible not to provide the best care we can as a medical community, care that could involve marijuana...We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States”
We at James Henry SF want to help change the outlook on cancer and equip you with the tools for better health. We have a lot of work to do, but the work starts with education and awareness. As a call to action to you - help spread the word and in turn, save lives.