Cannabinoids and Radiotherapy vs Aggressive Brain Tumors

The current mortality rate for people who have gliomas, the most aggressive form of brain cancer, is 6-12 months. Conventional treatments are at best palliative and offer little hope in the area of a cure. Can marijuana help?

Researchers from St. George’s, University of London, have discovered that cannabinoids along with radiotherapy shrink brain tumors.

The results were published in the 2014 November issue of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics

Scientists first tested the effects of cannabinoids, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) on cultured glioma cells and later administered radiation. They found that both cannabinoids killed cancer cells in a dose-dependent fashion, with higher doses showing a greater benefit.

Also, the cannabinoids were found to make the glioma cells more sensitive to the effects of radiation.

In the second part of the experiment, mice with brain cancer were either given no treatment, cannabinoids, radiation or a combination of radiation and cannabinoids. The mice receiving the cannabinoids and radiation obtained the best results.

According to the scientists involved in the study, there was a “drastic reduction” in tumor size, with some tumors disappearing altogether.

The London researchers want to conduct a similar study on humans. 

Until the legal situation of marijuana is sorted out, we won’t know the true extent of its health benefits. Current legislation makes it difficult for research studies to be conducted, and in many states it is currently illegal to use medical marijuana as a treatment.

Despite all of these setbacks, the research shows a promising picture. There are many studies showing the anti-cancer properties of marijuana. So far preclinical studies show cannabis may help to target cancers of the lung, thyroid, skin, uterus, breast, prostate, and pancreas.

Marijuana seems to be a promising anti-cancer agent due to its ability to target cancer in several ways. It targets angiogenesis, a process in which tumors gain circulation through blood vessel growth.

Marijuana also prevents metastasis (the spread of cancer cells), and it induces apoptosis, a process in which cancer cells “commit suicide”.

Finally, marijuana has been shown to alleviate the pain, nausea, and appetite issues encountered during cancer treatments, making it a versatile therapy.

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