Updated on January 31, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Cancer is one of the most pervasive diseases in the world — millions are diagnosed each year. The typical feature of most cancers is the mutation of healthy cells, causing tumors to form. There are more than 100 types of cancer.
The fight to find a cure wages on, and multiple treatments are showing promise. Because of medical advancements, many patients are winning the fight against cancer. However, the condition still steals the lives of far too many.
Medical marijuana is used to treat quite a few symptoms associated with cancer and its treatments. However, cannabis may have more use than most think for treating cancer. Recent studies have shown that it specifically targets and eradicates cancer cells. Read on to find out which forms of cancer cannabis could treat.
Cancer doesn’t refer to just one disease. It’s a name that includes more than 100 different manifestations. Cancer is caused when our body’s cells mutate because of damaged DNA that’s incorrectly copied during cell division. These mutated somatic cells begin to multiply more rapidly than healthy cells.
As cells continue to multiply, these extra cells can create tumors. A tumor can be benign, meaning it’s non-cancerous, or malignant, meaning it’s cancerous. Cancerous cells can spread to other parts of the body, or metastasize, which is why early treatment is important. Most cancers are named after wherein the body they begin, like lung cancer or breast cancer, even if the cells have spread.
There are many different treatments for cancer, and the ones you pursue depend on the type of cancer you have. All forms of cancer are different and present different symptoms. Some are more aggressive, spreading quickly, while others move slower.
Treatments also depend on how advanced your condition is. If cancer is caught early, the treatments could be different than if it’s found later.
Some of the most common types of cancer treatments include:
Medical marijuana is approved in many states as a supplemental treatment for cancer patients. That’s because cannabis is proven to relieve many uncomfortable and painful symptoms caused by the disease or cancer treatments. These include:
However, more research is finding that marijuana may possess cancer-fighting abilities. Clinical findings are limited because marijuana is still classified as an illegal substance by the federal government. Many are advocating for the government to loosen restrictions on cannabis so more research can be done.
Medical marijuana has been shown to stop the spread of cancerous cells throughout the body — but how? Cannabinoids are the compounds located in cannabis which react to our body’s cannabinoid receptors. The most well-known marijuana cannabinoids are THC and CBD, but more than 85 are found in the plant. These are what give marijuana its healing properties.
These cannabinoids have been shown to have cancer-fighting benefits, such as:
Because of this ability to stop cancerous cells from continuing their ruinous path, cannabis has the potential to treat many types of cancers. Marijuana treatments have been able to curb the growth of tumors. In the future, we could be seeing cannabis medications for many forms of cancer, such as:
Before you decide to try medical marijuana as a supplement to your cancer treatment, talk with your physician or a staff member at your dispensary to make sure it’s the right choice for you.