Breast cancer is one of the deadliest forms of cancer, costing hundreds of thousands of lives every year. The World Health Organization claims that breast cancer is the most common form of cancer worldwide among women and it is the second most deadly form of cancer for women. On average, a woman dies from breast cancer every 13 minutes. As with other deadly forms of cancer, breast cancer patients generally undergo harsh and debilitating treatment plans, such as chemotherapy. These treatment plans are often painful and expensive and present the patient with negative side effects that leave the patient feeling even worse. It’s no secret that cancer patients are turning to medical cannabis, also known as medical marijuana, to alleviate the symptoms brought on by chemotherapy such as pain, nausea, and fatigue. What is less well known, however, is the fact that extensive scientific research is showing that the cannabinoids in cannabis- tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) – are actually showing anti-tumor capabilities. Science is showing that not only does medical cannabis perform well with alleviating negative side effects from chemotherapy, it is actually effective at treating breast cancer as well. Let us look at 3 ways that medical cannabis can treat breast cancer:
- Cannabinoids cause tumor cells to commit suicide.Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the cannabinoids which has been extensively studied in the cannabis cancer field and the results have been very exciting. A 2011 study published in the American Association for Cancer Research stated that, “CBD induces both apoptosis and autophagy in MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells”. In other words, the cannabinoid CBD caused the cancer cells to initiate pre-programmed cell death. The cancer cells commit a form of cellular suicide and then replace the damaged area with fresh, healthy cells.
- Cannabinoids stop the metastasis of breast cancer. One of the most frightening aspects of breast cancer is that it has the ability to quickly spread and damage nearby healthy tissues. This is known as metastasis. Scientists have recently discovered a link that they believe to be linked to metastatic cancer: a gene known as ID-1. A study in 2007 published in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics revealed that CBD inhibits the ID-1 gene. The study’s authors concluded that, “CBD represents the first nontoxic exogenous agent that can significantly decrease Id-1 expression in metastatic breast cancer cells leading to the down-regulation of tumor aggressiveness.” This means that cannabidiol, or CBD, can help to slow down and even stop the rapid progression of metastatic breast cancer cells.
- Medical cannabis alleviates the side-effects of chemotherapy. Not only can cannabinoids treat the cancer cells directly, they also provide significant relief from the side effects associated with traditional treatments such as chemotherapy. Patients undergoing chemotherapy can experience a wide range of side effects including pain, anxiety, nausea, depression, insomnia, loss of appetite, and much more. Medical cannabis has been proven to help with each of these ailments and does so with an extremely low level of toxicity.
Whether a patient is using medical cannabis as a relief from the negative side effects of chemotherapy or if they are using it to attack the cancer cells directly, the medical and therapeutic benefits of cannabis are clear-cut. What is not so clear, however, is the best method of ingestion and dosage amount for treating breast cancer. With methods of ingestion ranging from oils, edibles, and vaporization, it is important that a patient speak with a qualified medical cannabis practitioner before beginning any breast cancer treatment. The correct strain, dosage, and method of ingestion are instrumental for the most effective medical cannabis treatment against breast cancer.