Can a Compound Found in Marijuana Fight Metastasizing Cancer?

Research in recent decades, coupled with real world examples, show how marijuana is useful for treating a variety of medical conditions. Whether it is arthritis, migraine headaches or fibromyalgia, marijuana has been shown to provide much needed relief to patients suffering from a myriad of conditions.

Many even credit marijuana with allowing them to maintain their careers, their homes and their independence.

Cancer is another common condition among medical marijuana patients, and a disease affecting millions of Americans. Most who are diagnosed with aggressive forms of cancer (e.g. breast, prostate, pancreatic, brain, etc.) do not survive.

As far as a definition of what cancer is, it basically consists of uncontrolled cell division. Cells that may have performed some function in concert with the rest of your body are unable to once they’ve been divided.

Cancer is said to have “metastasized” when this uncontrolled cell division spreads to other parts of the body. If this occurs in a cancer patient, their prognosis goes from bad to worse.

It’s well proven that ingesting marijuana helps with nausea and pain related to cancer treatments, or chemotherapy.

But new research from a pair of scientists at the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute indicates other, more permanent, benefits for cancer patients – benefits that may help patients permanently beat cancer.

Preclinical trial – meaning tests have not been done on humans yet – show a compound in marijuana, cannabidiol (CBD), actually turns off the genes that causes cancer to metastasize.

According to Sean McAllister and Pierre Desprez, the two scientists releasing the report, the cannabinoids act to inhibit metastasizing cancer. After repeated tests, the researchers found that CBD not only stopped the growth of cancer, it actually reversed it.

Commenting in the San Francisco Chronicle, Desprez says the team started by researching breast cancer. “But now we’ve found that Cannabidiol works with many kinds of aggressive cancers – brain, prostate – any kind in which these high levels of ID-1 are present.”

ID-1 is the gene seen by clinicians and oncologists that drives metastasizing cancer. According to the research from McAllister and Desprez, the CBD compound “down regulates” the gene, resulting in a decreased amount of gene product and by extension, a decrease in the metastatic phenotype associated with the gene.

This doesn’t mean that one should start smoking marijuana as a treatment or preventative measure for cancer.

For starters, the concentration of CBD in the cannabis plant is pretty low.

In fact, researchers in the study had to grow plants, isolate, and concentrate the CBD compounds. On its own, CBD is in fact non-toxic and non-psychoactive. Meaning, if someone were to ingest only the CBD compound, they would not feel the “high” generally associated with marijuana.

The team in San Francisco hopes to begin human trials soon.

Their report though confirms what many medical marijuana advocates have claimed for decades.

“I’ve treated patients dealing with cancers for nearly thirty years and I am convinced even consuming cannabis-laced edibles can have a noticeable effect in reduction of cancer cell growth over the long-term,” comments Dr. T.G. in a story on

While the benefits of medical marijuana may be obvious to many patients, doctors and advocates, it remains to be seen how political leaders will deal with this issue. Under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, marijuana is listed as a Schedule I narcotic, which essentially claims marijuana has no medicinal benefits whatsoever.

Rescheduling the drug to a Schedule II would open the door to more medical research, and would relieve the burden on states who have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes.

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