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Cannabis Research: Cancer

Cancer is a large group of diseases that causes unregulated and rapid cell growth. Due to uncontrolled growth, the cancerous cells invade and destroy surrounding healthy tissue. Cancer normally starts out in one part of the body, but can be spread through the bloodstream and lymphatic system. There are in excess of 200 types of cancer that effect humans, all having different symptoms depending on where they are located.

Brain Cancer Studies:

1) Antitumor Effects of Cannabidiol, a Nonpsychoactive Cannabinoid, on Human Glioma Cell Lines (2003)

Research was conducted to further explore the hypothesis that CBD had anti-tumour qualities, within a lab setting. It was found that CBD significantly dropped the viability of tumour cells, suggesting that CBD has practical anti-tumour applications. Published in The Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.

2) Neuroprotection by Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol, the Main Active Compound in Marijuana, against Ouabain-Induced In Vivo Excitotoxicity (2001)

This research set out to examine the effects of THC on acute brain damage and degenerative brain disease. It was concluded that THC acts to protect the brain from degenerative diseases. Published in The Journal of Neuroscience.

3) A pilot clinical study of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol in patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme (2006)

This study was the first that set out to explore the anti-tumour qualities of cannabinoids within a clinical setting. They had positive results, finding that THC and other cannabinoids acted to inhibit tumour growth within patients. Published in the British Journal of Cancer.

4) A Combined Preclinical Therapy of Cannabinoids and Temozolomide against Glioma (2011)

This research aimed to assess the application of THC in conjunction with the drug TMZ in the treatment of Glioblastoma multiforme – the most common and highly resistant form of brain cancer. It was found that the combined treatment demonstrated tumour reversal activity. Published in the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics.


Breast Cancer Studies:

1) Anti-tumor activity of plant cannabinoids with emphasis on the effect of cannabidiol on human breast carcinoma (2006)

This research acknowledges the anti-tumour effects of THC, but claims it is problematic because of its psychoactive properties. To this end, they set out to assess the effects of the other cannabinoids. It was found that CBD showed promising anti-cancer qualities that should be investigated further. Published in The Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.

2) Pathways mediating the effects of cannabidiol on the reduction of breast cancer cell proliferation, invasion, and metastasis (2010)

This study set out to determine the effects of CBD on breast cancer cells. It was found that it inhibited the growth and spread of these cancer cells. It was also found that CBD significantly reduced tumour mass. Published in the US Library of Medicine.

3) Cannabinoids reduce ErbB2-driven breast cancer progression through Akt inhibition (2010)

This research outlines experiments that were conducted to assess the effects of cannabinoids on the highly aggressive ErB2-positive breast cancer. They concluded that cannabinoids appeared to reduce both tumour growth and the amount of tumours present, strongly suggesting that it has a real application for the therapeutic treatment of breast cancer. Published in the journal Molecular Cancer.

4) The endogenous cannabinoid anandamide inhibits human breast cancer cell proliferation (1998)

This research set out to explore the effects of cannabinoids on the multiplication of breast cancer cells. It was found to effectively inhibit growth. Published in the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).


Lung Cancer Studies:

1) Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol inhibits epithelial growth factor-induced lung cancer cell migration in vitro as well as its growth and metastasis in vivo (2008)

Research was conducted to explore the effects of THC on epithelial growth factor-induced lung cancer – a particularly aggressive, and chemotherapy resistant form of cancer. It was found that THC played a significant role to inhibit the cancers growth, warranting further research into the matter. Published in the journal Oncogene.

2) Cannabidiol inhibits lung cancer cell invasion and metastasis via intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (2011)

This Research sought to investigate the effects of CBD on the invasiveness of lung cancer. It was found that cannabinoids inhibited the invasiveness of primary tumour cells within lung cancer patients. Published in the US National Library of Medicine.

3) Cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2, as novel targets for inhibition of non-small cell lung cancer growth and metastasis (2011)

Research was conducted in order to ascertain the role of cannabinoid receptor activation in lung cancer. It was found both inhibit the growth of cancerous cells, as well as increase their apoptosis – the natural process of cell death. Published in the US National Library of Medicine.


Prostate Cancer Studies:

1) Anti-proliferative and apoptotic effects of anandamide in human prostatic cancer cell lines: implication of epidermal growth factor receptor down-regulation and ceramide production (2003)

This study outlines how the activation of cannabinoid receptors within the prostate causes anti-prolific effect in cancer cells, having large implications into the treatment of prostate cancer. Published in the US National Library of Medicine.

2) The role of cannabinoids in prostate cancer: Basic science perspective and potential clinical applications (2012)

This study conducted a meta-review of many other previous prostate cancer research papers to determine whether cannabinoids had a practical clinical application. It concluded that it would be in everyone’s best interest to conduct clinical trials involving medical cannabis. Published in the US National Library of Medicine.

3) Non-THC cannabinoids inhibit prostate carcinoma growth in vitro and in vivo: pro-apoptotic effects and underlying mechanisms (2013)

This Research set out to expand on the previously researched notion that cannabinoid receptor activation caused cell death within prostate cancer cells. The research found significant positive results and concluded that the data supported the clinical testing of CBD in prostate cancer patients. Published in the US Library of Medicine.

Blood Cancer Studies:

1) Cannabinoid Receptor-Mediated Apoptosis Induced by R(+)-Methanandamide and Win55,212-2 Is Associated with Ceramide Accumulation and p38 Activation in Mantle Cell Lymphoma (2006)

This study set out to explore whether cannabinoids inhibited cancer cells in lymphoma. It outlines how cannabinoids were found cause growth inhibition and cell death within mantle cell lymphoma (blood cancer). Published in the journal Molecular Pharmacology.

2) Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol-induced apoptosis in Jurkat leukaemia T cells is regulated by translocation of Bad to mitochondria (2006)

This Research outlines how it assessed the use of cannabinoids to cause apoptosis (the regulated and natural death of cells). It gained positive results, finding that cannabinoids do indeed cause the death of cancerous leukaemia cells. Published in the US National Library of Medicine.

3) Expression of cannabinoid receptors type 1 and type 2 in non-Hodgkin lymphoma: Growth inhibition by receptor activation (2008)

This research aimed to determine what the effects cannabinoid receptor activation on lymphoma were. It was found that cannabinoid receptor activation reduced the multiplication and growth of lymphoma, as well as causing some cancer cells to die. Published in the International Journal of Cancer. 

Oral Cancer Studies:

1) Cannabinoids inhibit cellular respiration of human oral cancer cells (2010)

This research aimed to study the effects of cannabinoids on how cancerous cells respire within types of oral cancer. They found that cannabinoids inhibit the cancer cells respiration and are thus toxic to them. This implies that cannabinoids could be used for the treatment of oral cancer. Published in the US National Library of Medicine.

Liver Cancer Studies

1) Anti-tumoral action of cannabinoids on hepatocellular carcinoma: role of AMPK-dependent activation of autophagy (2011)

This research aimed to determine how THC effects cancerous cells within the liver. It was found that THC reduces the growth and effectiveness of these cancerous cell, implying that THC as a therapeutic treatment should be explored further. Published in the US National Library of Medicine

Pancreatic Cancer Studies :

1) Cannabinoids Induce Apoptosis of Pancreatic Tumor Cells via Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress–Related Genes (2006)

This study suggests that pancreatic tumour tissue appears to have a much higher number of cannabinoid receptors when compared to that of normal pancreatic tissue. The study found that when cannabinoids were administered, cancer cells started dying through apoptosis, leading to a reduction in tumour growth and is spread. Published in The American Journal of Cancer.

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