As humans, our bodies regularly grow new cells to replace old ones that have died off. Cancer is a disease where these cells are grown too quickly, in an area where old cells are not dying off. Cancer is the result of these cells that grow uncontrollably without dying off, ultimately creating a lump or mass of tissue called a tumor.
These tumors can grow in size resulting in interference with the bodies circulatory systems, nervous systems and circulatory systems. These tumors can also release hormones that alter body function. There are currently over 100 different types of cancer, and each one is categorized by the type of cell that is initially affected. There are five broad groups that help us classify these various types of cancer:
Carinomas – characterized by cells that cover internal or externals parts of the body (lung, prostate, pancreatic, breast, skin and colon cancer)
Sarcomas – characterized by cells that are located in bone, cartilage, fat, connective tissue, and muscle.
Lymphomas – cancers that begin in the lymph nodes and immune system tissues
Leukemias – cancers that begin the bone marrow and often accumulate in the bloodstream
Adenomas – cancers that arise inthe thyroid, the pituatary gland, the adrenal gland, and other glandular tissues
Cancer treatment depends on the type of cancer, the stage of the cancer (how much it has spread), age, health status, and additional personal characteristics. There is no single treatment for cancer, and patients often receive a combination of therapies. Treatments usually fall into one of the following categories: surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, hormone therapy, or gene therapy.
Medical Cannabis and Cancer
There is currently an overwhelming amount of evidence suggesting that cannabinoids may kill virtually any kind of cancer cell in the human body. In 1974 the University of Virginia conducted a study in which they found that THC and CBN had successfully slowed the growth of lung cancer and inhibited the spread of leukemia in the body. More recent studies have shown that cannabis has the potential to induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) in prostate, pancreatic, skin, breast, and glioma cancer cell lines; effectively reducing tumor size. Cannabis oil applied to the skin CBD has shown to inhibit the spread of breast cancer. The human body is outfitted with a natural endocannabinoid system.
Research has shown that this endocannabinoid system may actually be programmed to kill cancer cells with cannabinoids. Our body naturally produces an endocannabinoid called ‘anandamide’ which has demonstrated to induce apoptosis in prostate and breast cancer. Anandamide and THC are very similar in that they both activate the same cannabinoid receptors in the brain. Furthermore, most cancer cells tend to exhibit higher levels of cannabinoid receptors than healthy cells.
Cannabis can also be used to treat the common and unpleasant side effects brought on my chemotherapy. Many patients experience nausea, vomiting, and stomach pains and eventually may become cachexic. High THC strains have shown to stimulate appetite, creating that feeling referred to as “the munchies.” Heavy indica strains are excellent for patients who are experiencing body pains, stress, anxiety and difficulty sleeping.
Patients who are struggling with stomach discomfort, fatigue or depression tend to benefit from the use of a sativa-dominant strain. Recent research has shown that CBD and CBG may have chemo-preventative properties by protecting the heart from the detrimental effects of doxorubicin (a drug used in chemotherapy treatment).