Cancer and Cannabis Q&A
By National Cancer Institute (NIH)
What is Cannabis?
Cannabis , also known as marijuana, is a plant from Central Asia that is grown in many parts of the world today. The Cannabis plant produces a resin containing compounds called cannabinoids. Some cannabinoids are psychoactive (acting on the brain and changing mood or consciousness). In the United States, Cannabis is a controlled substance and has been classified as a Schedule I agent (a drug with a high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use).
Clinical trials that study medicinal Cannabis in cancer are limited. To do research with Cannabis in the United States, researchers must file an Investigational New Drug (IND) application with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), receive a Schedule I license from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and gain approval from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
By federal law, the possession of Cannabis (marijuana) is illegal in the United States outside of approved research settings. However, a growing number of states, territories, and the District of Columbia have enacted laws to legalize medical marijuana.
What are cannabinoids?
Cannabinoids are active chemicals in Cannabis that cause drug-like effects throughout the body, including the central nervous system and the immune system. They are also known as phytocannabinoids. The main active cannabinoid in Cannabis is delta-9-THC. Another active cannabinoid is cannabidiol (CBD), which may relieve pain and lower inflammation without causing the "high" of delta-9-THC.
Cannabinoids may be useful in treating the side effects of cancer and cancer treatment.
Other possible effects of cannabinoids include:
Blocking cell growth.
Preventing the growth of blood vessels that supply tumors.
Relieving muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis.
What is the history of the medical use of Cannabis?
The use of Cannabis for medicinal purposes dates back at least 3,000 years. It came into use in Western medicine in the 19th century and was said to relieve pain, inflammation, spasms, and convulsions.
In 1937, the U.S. Treasury began taxing Cannabis under the Marijuana Tax Act at one dollar per ounce for medicinal use and one hundred dollars per ounce for non-medical use. The American Medical Association (AMA) opposed this regulation of Cannabis and did not want studies of its potential medicinal benefits to be limited. In 1942, Cannabis was removed from the U.S. Pharmacopoeia because of continuing concerns about its safety. In 1951, Congress passed the Boggs Act, which included Cannabis with narcotic drugs for the first time.
Under the Controlled Substances Act passed by Congress in 1970, marijuana was classified as a Schedule I drug. Other Schedule I drugs include heroin, LSD, mescaline, methaqualone, and gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB).
Although Cannabis was not believed to have any medicinal use, the U.S. government distributed it to patients on a case-by-case basis under the Compassionate Use Investigational New Drug (IND) program started in 1978. This program was closed to new patients in 1992.
Researchers have studied how cannabinoids act on the brain and other parts of the body. Cannabinoid receptors (molecules that bind cannabinoids) have been discovered in brain cells and nerve cells in other parts of the body. The presence of cannabinoid receptors on immune system cells suggests that cannabinoids may have a role in immunity.
Nabiximols (Sativex) is a Cannabis extract that contains delta-9-THC and cannabidiol (CBD). Nabiximols is approved in Canada (under the Notice of Compliance with Conditions) for relief of pain in patients with advanced cancer or multiple sclerosis.
If Cannabis is illegal, how do some cancer patients in the United States use it?
Though federal law prohibits the use of Cannabis, the map below shows the states and territories that have legalized Cannabis for medical purposes. Some other states have legalized only one ingredient in Cannabis, such as cannabidiol (CBD), and these states are not included in the map. Medical marijuana laws vary from state to state.
How is Cannabis administered?
Cannabis may be taken by mouth or may be inhaled. When taken by mouth (in baked products or as an herbal tea), the main psychoactive ingredient in Cannabis (delta-9-THC) is processed by the liver, making an additional psychoactive chemical.
When Cannabis is smoked and inhaled, cannabinoids quickly enter the bloodstream. The additional psychoactive chemical is produced in smaller amounts than when taken by mouth.
A growing number of clinical trials are studying a medicine made from an extract of Cannabis that contains specific amounts of cannabinoids. This medicine is sprayed under the tongue.
Studies in mice and rats have shown that cannabinoids may inhibit tumor growth by causing cell death, blocking cell growth, and blocking the development of blood vessels needed by tumors to grow. Laboratory and animal studies have shown that cannabinoids may be able to kill cancer cells while protecting normal cells.
A study in mice showed that cannabinoids may protect against inflammation of the colon and may have potential in reducing the risk of colon cancer, and possibly in its treatment.
A laboratory study of delta-9-THC in hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer) cells showed that it damaged or killed the cancer cells. The same study of delta-9-THC in mouse models of liver cancer showed that it had antitumor effects. Delta-9-THC has been shown to cause these effects by acting on molecules that may also be found in non-small cell lung cancer cells and breast cancer cells.
A laboratory study of cannabidiol (CBD) in estrogen receptor positive and estrogen receptor negative breast cancer cells showed that it caused cancer cell death while having little effect on normal breast cells. Studies in mouse models of metastatic breast cancer showed that cannabinoids may lessen the growth, number, and spread of tumors.
A laboratory study of cannabidiol (CBD) in human glioma cells showed that when given along with chemotherapy, CBD may make chemotherapy more effective and increase cancer cell death without harming normal cells. Studies in mouse models of cancer showed that CBD together with delta-9-THC may make chemotherapy such as temozolomide more effective.
Many animal studies have shown that delta-9-THC and other cannabinoids stimulate appetite and can increase food intake.
Cannabinoid receptors (molecules that bind cannabinoids) have been studied in the brain, spinal cord, and nerve endings throughout the body of animals to understand their roles in pain relief.
Cannabinoids have been studied for anti-inflammatory effects that may play a role in pain relief.
Animal studies have shown that cannabinoids may prevent nerve problems (pain, numbness, tingling, swelling, and muscle weakness) caused by some types of chemotherapy.
Nausea and vomiting
Cannabinoid receptors found in brain cells may have a role in controlling nausea and vomiting. Animal studies have shown that delta-9-THC and other cannabinoids may act on cannabinoid receptors to prevent vomiting caused by certain types of chemotherapy.
Anxiety and sleep
Cannabinoid receptors found in the brain and other parts of the nervous system may be involved in controlling mood and anxiety.
Anti-anxiety effects of cannabidiol (CBD) have been shown in several animal models.
Have any clinical trials (research studies with people) of Cannabis or cannabinoid use by cancer patients been conducted?
No clinical trials of Cannabis as a treatment for cancer in humans have been found in the CAM on PubMed database maintained by the National Institutes of Health.
Cannabis and cannabinoids have been studied in clinical trials for ways to manage side effects of cancer and cancer therapies, including the following:
Cannabidiol (CBD) by mouth to treat solid tumors that have recurred (come back).
An oral spray combining 2 cannabinoids (delta-9-THC and CBD) given with temozolomide to treat recurrent glioblastoma multiforme.
Cannabidiol (CBD) to treat acute graft-versus-host disease in patients who have undergone allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.
Nausea and vomiting
Delta-9-THC taken by mouth: Two cannabinoid drugs approved in the United States are available under the names dronabinol and nabilone. Both dronabinol and nabilone are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting in patients who have not responded to standard therapy. Many clinical trials have shown that both dronabinol and nabilone worked as well as or better than some of the weaker FDA-approved drugs to relieve nausea and vomiting. Newer drugs given for chemotherapy-related nausea have not been directly compared with Cannabis or cannabinoids in cancer patients.
Inhaled Cannabis: Ten small trials have studied inhaled Cannabis for the treatment of chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting. Various study methods and chemotherapy agents were used with mixed results. There is not enough information to interpret these findings.
Oral spray with delta-9-THC and cannabidiol (CBD): Nabiximols, a Cannabis extract given as a mouth spray, was shown in a small randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blinded clinical trial in Spain to treat chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting.
There is growing interest in treating children for symptoms such as nausea with Cannabis and cannabinoids, although studies are limited. The American Academy of Pediatrics has not endorsed Cannabis and cannabinoid use because of concerns about brain development.
Delta-9-THC taken by mouth: A clinical trial compared delta-9-THC (dronabinol) and a standard drug (megestrol) in patients with advanced cancer and loss of appetite. Results showed that delta-9-THC was not as effective in increasing appetite or weight gain in advanced cancer patients compared with standard therapy. However, a clinical trial of patients with HIV /AIDS and weight loss found that those who took delta-9-THC had increased appetite and stopped losing weight compared with patients who took a placebo.
Inhaled Cannabis: There are no published studies of the effect of inhaled Cannabis on cancer patients with loss of appetite. Studies of healthy people who inhaled Cannabis showed that they consumed more calories, especially high-fat and sweet snacks.
Combining cannabinoids with opioids: In a small study of 21 patients with chronic pain, combining vaporized Cannabis with morphine relieved pain better than morphine alone, while combining vaporized Cannabis with oxycodone did not produce significantly greater pain relief. These findings should be tested in further studies.
Delta-9-THC taken by mouth: Two small clinical trials of oral delta-9-THC showed that it relieved cancer pain. In the first study, patients had good pain relief as well as relief of nausea and vomiting and better appetite. A second study showed that delta-9-THC could be given in doses that gave pain relief comparable to codeine. An observational study of nabilone also showed that it relieved cancer pain along with nausea, anxiety, and distress when compared with no treatment. Neither dronabinol nor nabilone is approved by the FDA for pain management.
Cannabis plant extract medicine: A study of an extract of Cannabis that contained specific amounts of cannabinoids, which was sprayed under the tongue, found it was effective in patients with advanced cancer whose pain was not relieved by strong opioids alone. Patients who received the lower doses of cannabinoid spray showed markedly better pain control and less sleep loss compared with patients who received a placebo. Results showed that, for some patients, control of their cancer-related pain continued without needing higher doses of spray or higher doses of their other pain medicines.
Anxiety and sleep
Inhaled Cannabis: A small case series found that patients who inhaled Cannabis had improved mood, improved sense of well-being, and less anxiety.
Are Cannabis or cannabinoids approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use as a cancer treatment in the United States?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved Cannabis or cannabinoids for use as a cancer treatment.
By National Cancer Institute (NIH) 1-800-4-CANCER
Read more: https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/cam/patient/cannabis-pdq#section/_3
Marijuana: Dangers Hyped, Benefits Ignored
By Lanny Swerdlow, RN Culture Magazine
When I was a student nurse, I spent two weeks in a maternity ward where I was assigned to one expectant mother to care for. She was 37 and having her fifth child. During the pregnancy, she developed hyperemesis gravidarum, a nausea so severe that it can lead to electrolyte imbalances that can be life-threatening to the fetus. This mother chose to use cannabis to treat the hyperemesis. It worked very well without any of the side effects of other medications commonly used to treat it.
As it was standard operating procedure at the hospital I was interning at, she underwent a drug screen when she came to the hospital for delivery. Not surprisingly she tested positive for cannabis. As a consequence, she was investigated by Children’s Protective Services, a note was put in her chart of child endangerment and after her baby was born (weighing over seven pounds), she was not allowed to breastfeed and was separated from her baby who was placed in neonatal intensive care unit where the baby was fed formula.
Cannabis use during pregnancy to treat nausea, pain and depression is far safer to both mother and child than any of the medications that are given to women to treat those conditions during pregnancy.
Reefer madness and genuflecting to law enforcement drove health care professionals to claim that cannabis is a danger to both the fetus and the baby and that more research has to be done. Until then the horrors experienced by my patients, the 37-year-old mother and her baby, are par for the course.
Finally, the research has been done. Not only does it document that there is no harm from a mother’s use of cannabis, it also debunked the poor methodology of previous research papers which purported to show severe negative consequences to the child.
READ MORE- http://www.copsrcorrupt.com/cps-and-medical-marijuana-use.html
Published in the October 2016 issue of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, the medical review utilized research findings from 31 previous studies that interviewed over 132,000 pregnant women.
Earlier studies concluded that cannabis use during pregnancy resulted in a greater likelihood of having a preterm birth or a baby with low birth weight.
The new research found that the babies of the 7,800 women who only used cannabis during pregnancy were no more likely to suffer preterm birth or low birth weight babies than the 124,000 women who reported no cannabis use.
The new research demonstrated that the previous studies were deficient as they did not consider tobacco smoking separate from cannabis smoking. Utilizing research protocols that separated those who only used cannabis from those who used cannabis and tobacco, the researchers found that the women who only used cannabis did not have an increase for preterm birth or a low birth weight baby.
Those who used both cannabis and tobacco suffered an 85 percent increased risk of having preterm birth or low birth weight babies. Cannabis only did not produce those results—it was the tobacco. It has been long known that tobacco use during pregnancy is detrimental to the fetus and the same is even truer for alcohol, yet no one seems to be demanding the prohibition of these substances in the name of fetal health.
Opioids used during pregnancy to treat pain can result in babies having spina bifida (neural defect), hydrocephaly (fluid in the brain), congenital heart defects and other deforming and life threatening problems. Anti-depressants, especially SSRIs like Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft, have been demonstrated to produce autism spectrum, developmental disorders and birth defects in babies.
Complicating the picture is that neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) occurs when a baby is exposed to a drug in the womb before birth and then goes through withdrawal from the drug after birth. NAS is most often the result of a pregnant woman taking opioids.
Rather than discouraging women from using cannabis during pregnancy, doctors should be encouraging women to use cannabis in place of the far more dangerous drugs they are given during pregnancy to treat pain, depression and insomnia. This outdated and anachronistic anti-cannabis policy continues to negatively impact the lives of millions of expectant mothers and their soon to be born children.
MYTH BUSTERS: Myths VS. Facts
By Doug Fine
MYTH: Stoned driving is as bad as drunk driving.
FACT: Drunk driving kills 28 people a day in America, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Studies have not found similar results for driving while high, and it’s not even clear that marijuana even increases the number of traffic accidents.
MYTH: Smoking pot is much worse for your lungs than smoking cigarettes.
FACT: A 2012 study on marijuana’s effects on the lungs came up with this conclusion: “Occasional and low cumulative marijuana use was not associated with adverse effects on pulmonary function.”
MYTH: Marijuana has no medicinal value.
FACT: The reality is that cannabis is something of a wonder drug. The majority of American medical doctors think marijuana should be legal according to WebMD survey reported in April—and with good reason. It alleviates symptoms related to chemotherapy, AIDS, certain cancers and especially glaucoma. Marijuana’s ability to help people with certain debilitating seizure disorders inspired a number of mostly conservative states to adopt (highly restrictive) medical cannabis laws.
MYTH: If pot is legal, more people will use it.
FACT: As drug policy undergoes big changes, I’ve been watching rates of youth cannabis use with interest. As it is for most fathers, the well-being of my family is the most important thing in my life. Whether you like the plant or not, as with alcohol, only adults should be allowed to partake of intoxicating substances. But youth cannabis use is near its highest level ever in the United States. When I spoke at a California high school recently and asked, “Who thinks cannabis is easier to obtain than alcohol?,” nearly every hand shot up.
In Portugal, by contrast, youth rates fell from 2002 to 2006, after all drugs were legalized there in 2001. Similarly, a 2011 Brown University-led study of middle and high school students in Rhode Island found no increases in adolescent use after the state legalized medical marijuana in 2006.
Doug Fine is the author of “Too High to Fail: Cannabis and the New Green Economic Revolution,” in which he followed one legal medicinal cannabis plant from farm to patient.
Read more- Medical marijuana
Marijuana and Cancer (American Cancer Society)
Cannabis and Cannabinoids (PDQ®)–Health Professional Version
Cannabis and skin cancer
Cannabis and Cancer: How “Marijuana” Helps the Body Heal
Marijuana Drastically Shrinks Aggressive Form Of Brain Cancer, New Study Finds
Study: Cannabis Compounds Can Kill Cancer Cells
Marijuana Kills Cancer Cells, Admits the U.S. National Cancer Institute
How Cannabis Oil Works to Kill Cancer Cells
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U.S. Government Finally Admits Marijuana Really Does Kill Cancer Cells
The idea that cannabis kills cancer cells seems to no longer be a conspiracy theory in the United States. With this information, can any state legitimately say no to medicinal marijuana?
Or could it even be considered a preventative herb to avoid getting cancer?
Amy Willis with Metro says that the US government has added a page on the use of cannabis and cannabinoids to their official cancer advice website.
Willis advises, “The National Cancer Institute, part of the US Department of Health, now advises that ‘cannabinoids may be useful in treating the side effects of cancer and cancer treatment’ by smoking, eating it in baked products, drinking herbal teas or even spraying it under the tongue.”
The official government site has a long list of medicinal uses of cannabis, including:
Anti-inflammatory activity, pain relief, anti-anxiety, stress relief, anti-tumor, antiviral activity and relieving muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis, and many many more.
The site goes on to talk about how cannabis has been proven to destroy cancer cells in lab experiments.
Willis continues, “Several scientific studies have suggested this in the past, and in April this year the US government’s National Institute on Drug Abuse revised their publications to suggest cannabis could shrink brain tumors by killing off cancer cells.”
If the United States government is finally willing to admit these benefits and that cannabis has been proven to kill cancer cells, then will other western nations follow suit?
If good health and decreasing cancer rates is important to you, then contact your government and tell them about the great benefits of cannabis – a natural herb that has a long list of benefits without the side effects of man-made cancer treatments.