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A Spanish biologist studying cell metabolism in the 1990s accidentally discovered that the cannabinoid THC induces apoptosis or cell death in a specific type of aggressive brain cancer in laboratory testing (Lee 2012). THC also slowed tumor growth in a common lung cancer and significantly reduced its ability to spread.
CBD is now showing to have similar effects in early studies. Not only does CBD appear to have the ability to destroy tumor cells, it seems to do so selectively, leaving healthy cells unscathed. This is unlike conventional chemotherapy drugs, which are highly toxic and indiscriminately damage the body. Cannabinoids are said to represent a new class of cancer drugs that can retard cancer growth, inhibit the formation of new blood cells that feed a tumor, and slow or stop the spread of cancer cells.
CBD has been shown to be a potent inhibitor of breast cancer cell proliferation, metastasis, and tumor growth, by switching off the expression of a protein that appears to play a key role as a cancer cell conductor. CBD also appears to act synergistically with various anti-cancer pharmaceuticals, enhancing their impact while cutting the dosage needed for the maximum effect, thus reducing the toxicity to the human body (Lee 2012). THC and CBD have both been shown to induce apoptosis or cell death in leukemic cell lines as well as prostate, thyroid, lymphoma, skin, pancreas, uterus, breast, colorectal, and colon cancers (Massi 2013). Collectively, CBD is said to exhibit pro-apoptotic and antiproliferative actions in different types of tumors and may also exert anti-migratory, anti-invasive, anti-metastatic, and perhaps even anti-angiogenic (creation of new blood vessels) properties.
The full anti-carcinogenic properties and mechanisms of CBD are yet unknown, but the endocannabinoid system or ECS, which acts as the body’s signaling system to help regulate key bodily functions, is said to play a crucial role in the development and spread of cancer cells. CBD and cannabis derivatives are showing tremendous promise in not only preventing many different kinds of cancers, but also shrinking them, and preventing their spread. Scientists are desperately trying to unlock the secrets of the ECS so that they can control the signals it sends and use it to control the way cancer grows in our bodies.
Lee, Martin A. Marijuana fights cancer and helps manage side effects, researchers find. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/09/06/marijuana-fights-cancer-and-helps-manage-side-effects-researchers-find.html, The Daily Beast, 2012. P Massi, M Solinas, V Cinquina, D Parolaro. “Cannabidiol as potential anticancer drug.” Br J Clin Pharmacol, 2013: 303-312.