Cancer is the second-leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for one out of every six deaths. Researchers have been in a decades-long struggle to get a leg up on the many forms of this horrible disease. While some progress has been made and survival rates are increasing, it certainly hasn’t put a stop to cancer altogether.
CBD, a cannabinoid found in the hemp plant, has gained immense popularity of late due to its ability to support recovery from a wide variety of ailments–including, some claim, various forms of cancer. Can you use CBD for cancer? In this article, we look at medical studies and investigate personal stories to give you a complete answer.
CBD for cancer at a glance
- What the claims are: CBD may be able to slow or even reverse the development of some cancers. CBD can also support symptoms associated with cancer and cancer treatments.
- What the studies show: Many early studies indicate that CBD may have anti-cancer properties. Other, more developed research, supports the use of CBD to relieve the symptoms of chemotherapy, such as nausea and vomiting, and other symptoms of cancer such as pain, depression, and loss of sleep.
- What the facts say: While we don’t yet know for certain whether using CBD for cancer is effective, medical research gives us reason to be hopeful. In the meantime, CBD has been shown to help relieve cancer- and chemotherapy-related symptoms.
Cancer is a name given to a variety of related diseases, all of which involve some of the body’s cells dividing without stopping, spreading into the surrounding tissues. The cancer may spread to other parts of the body, causing a variety of symptoms and often leading to death.
Cancer can be caused by a variety of factors, though some of the most significant contributors are environmental, such as exposure to radiation, harmful chemicals, and viruses, and lifestyle factors such as smoking and drinking alcohol. Genetics also plays a role.
Known risk factors include:
- Age: While cancer can be diagnosed at any age, most cases occur after 65 years of age.
- Habits: Smoking or drinking, being obese, having unsafe sex, and excessive exposure to the sun can all increase your risk of developing cancer.
- Family history: A small portion of cancers occur due to inherited conditions or inherited genetic mutations.
- Other health conditions: Some health conditions can increase your risk of developing cancer.
- Environment: Your environment is a significant contributor to cancer risk. For example, working a job that exposes you to harmful chemicals or radiation, or living in a home that contains asbestos or is near a cell tower can also increase your risk of developing cancer.
Some potential complications of cancer include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Weight loss
- Difficulty breathing
- Chemical changes in your body
- Brain and nervous system problems
- Spreading or returning of cancer
Cancer is also expensive. The average cost for cancer treatment is around $150,000. The financial burden, combined by the loss of the ability to earn income, can wreak havoc in a person’s finances and those of their family.
Can CBD be used for cancer?
For a long time, many people outside the medical profession have claimed cannabis’ efficacy as a remedy for cancer, citing personal experiences of recovery. Researchers are currently in the process of investigating whether cannabis could be a viable treatment for cancer. Many of these studies, however, focus on the THC-containing marijuana plant, which is psychoactive and therefore not an ideal remedy for many people.
CBD, which is most often derived from industrial hemp, is non-psychoactive and has a remarkable profile of benefits. Though the cannabis plant has been used as a traditional remedy for centuries, medical research has only recently begun to focus on this plant’s therapeutic potential. Thus, most studies are still in their early stages, and while many of them show promise, there are few conclusive answers.
So far, evidence suggests that CBD for cancer could potentially be effective in several different ways: as a support to the symptoms of cancer and treatments such as chemotherapy, and as a direct remedy for the disease itself.
Medical studies on CBD for cancer
CBD and Cancer
Research about CBD for cancer is underway. Here are some of the studies that caught our attention.
One study, which reviewed research on cannabinoids in cancer treatment, suggested that in vitro, various cannabinoids have anti-cancer effects against a wide variety of cancers, including lung carcinoma, gliomas, thyroid epithelioma, lymphoma, skin carcinoma, uterine carcinoma, breast cancer, prostate carcinoma, pancreatic cancer and neuroblastoma.
Another study, which reviewed some of the research on CBD for cancer, stated that “evidence is emerging to suggest that CBD is a potent inhibitor of both cancer growth and spread.” It indicated that CBD may be effectively used for breast cancer, glioma, leukemia, lung cancer, and colon cancer.
A review of the research noted that some studies indicate CBD is an anti-tumor agent.
This study showed that, in vitro, CBD oil prevented the growth and caused the death of cervical cancer cells.
All in all, this research looks very promising. However, it’s important to note that the research is still in its early stages. These studies indicate that CBD for cancer shows promise, but they are still a long way from proving its efficacy.
CBD and Symptoms of Cancer Treatment
While the efficacy of using CBD for cancer itself is still being investigated, the research on CBD’s usefulness for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy is more developed. In fact, one study showed that CBD can reduce nausea and vomiting in patients undergoing chemotherapy, as well as provide appetite stimulation, pain relief, mood elevation, and relief from insomnia.
A clinical trial, which is considered a major threshold on the path to proving a drug’s effectiveness, was conducted on the use of CBD for cancer symptoms. It suggested that CBD could help alleviate cancer-related symptoms such as chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.
One of the above-mentioned studies notes is that CBD has an excellent safety record and is already being used as a medical treatment for other ailments. In fact, CBD has already been approved by the FDA for the treatment of a rare form of epilepsy. Thus, CBD is generally quite safe.
According to Harvard Medical School, those side-effects that can occur are generally mild, such as nausea, fatigue and irritability. It may also raise the levels of certain other medications in your blood in the same way grapefruit juice does, and may possibly interact with some blood thinners.
Cannabis has been used as a traditional remedy for centuries. While the studies related to CBD for cancer are promising (and even downright exciting), they are still in their early stages. A lot more research still has to be done to determine whether CBD for cancer really is a viable treatment
Something that is better established, though, is CBD’s efficacy in addressing symptoms related to cancer and chemotherapy. There is very strong evidence supporting CBD’s use to relieve many of chemotherapy’s effects. Because of this, CBD may be a useful accompaniment to other treatments. As always, you should consult your doctor before making any changes to your healthcare routine.
- Cannabidiol as potential anticancer drug
- Cannabinoids as therapeutic agents in cancer: current status and future implications
- Cannabidiol rather than Cannabis sativa extracts inhibit cell growth and induce apoptosis in cervical cancer cells
- Cannabinoids for cancer treatment: progress and promise.
- FDA News Release
- Cannabidiol (CBD) — what we know and what we don’t
- The High Cost of Cancer Treatment
- What Causes Cancer?
- BMJ Journals
- What Is Cancer?