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Medical Marijuana Study: Cannabinoids: Potential Anticancer Agents

Medical Marijuana Study: Cannabinoids: Potential Anticancer Agents

Posted by Marijuana Doctors on 10/07/2011 in Medical Marijuana Studies

Study:Cannabinoids: Potential Anticancer Agents

Researchers:Manuel Guzmán, Nature Publishing Group, October 2003 

Read the Study (PDF) >>


In 2003, published the comprehensive study called “Cannabinoids: Potential Anticancer Agents,” which assessed cannabis’ utility as an anticancer agent. The study took in to account more than 100 notable cancer/cannabis studies for full spectrum look at how medical marijuana can be used not only to alleviate side effects of chemotherapy, but to fight cancer and shrink tumors.

The study included the following conclusions:

• Cannabinoids, the active components of Cannabis sativa and their derivatives, act in the organism by mimicking endogenous substances, the endocannabinoids, that activate specific cannabinoid receptors. Cannabinoids exert palliative effects in patients with cancer and inhibit tumor growth in laboratory animals.

• The best-established palliative effect of cannabinoids in cancer patients is the inhibition of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Today, capsules of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (dronabinol (Marinol)) and its synthetic analogue nabilone (Cesamet) are approved for this purpose.

• Other potential palliative effects of cannabinoids in cancer patients — supported by Phase III clinical trials — include appetite stimulation and pain inhibition. In relation to the former, dronabinol is now prescribed for anorexia associated with weight loss in patients with AIDS.

• Cannabinoids inhibit tumor growth in laboratory animals. They do so bymodulating key cell-signaling pathways, thereby inducing direct growth arrest and death of tumor cells, as well as by inhibiting tumor angiogenesis and metastasis.

• Cannabinoids are selective antitumor compounds, as they can kill tumor cells without affecting their non-transformed counterparts. It is probable that cannabinoid receptors regulate cell-survival and cell-death pathways differently in tumor and nontumour cells.

Cannabinoids have favorable drug-safety profiles and do not produce the generalized toxic effects of conventional chemotherapies. The use of cannabinoids in medicine, however, is limited by their psychoactive effects, and so cannabinoid-based therapies that are devoid of unwanted side effects are being designed.

• Further basic and preclinical research on cannabinoid anticancer properties is required. It would be desirable that clinical trials could accompany these laboratory studies to allow us to use these compounds in the treatment of cancer.

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