The following information is presented for educational purposes only.
Medical Marijuana Inc. provides this information to provide an understanding
of the potential applications of cannabidiol. Links to third party websites
do not constitute an endorsement of these organizations by Medical Marijuana
Inc. and none should be inferred.
A tumor is an abnormal growth of cells that can potentially be cancerous.
Studies have shown cannabis has antitumor effects and can limit tumor growth
and encourage cancer cell death.
Overview of Tumors
A tumor is an abnormal mass of body tissue. They can be cancerous or
noncancerous. Tumors develop as a result of cells dividing and growing
excessively. Cell growth and division is normal, and typically the body
manages the creation of new cells to replace older or damaged ones. When
proper cell growth and death is disturbed, however, a tumor can result.
The underlying cause of a tumor can be related to a problem with the body’s
immune system. Drinking too much alcohol, exposure to environmental toxins,
excessive sunlight exposure, genetic problems, obesity, radiation exposure
and viruses are also risk factors of cancerous tumors.
The symptoms associated with tumors depend on the tumor’s type and location.
Tumors located in the colon, for example, can cause diarrhea, constipation,
weight loss, blood in the stool, and iron deficiency anemia. Lung tumors can
cause coughing, chest pain and shortness of breath. Other symptoms of tumors
can include chills, fatigue, fever, loss of appetite, malaise, night sweats
and weight loss. Some tumors, however, may not cause any symptoms until
they’re at an advanced stage.
Once a tumor is discovered, a biopsy is used to determine whether the tumor
is noncancerous or cancerous. If the tumor is noncancerous, treatment may
not be necessary but they may be removed for cosmetic reasons. Cancerous
tumors, however, must be treated. Possible treatments include chemotherapy,
radiation, surgery, biological therapy and targeted cancer therapy.
Findings: Effects of Cannabis on Tumors
Research has shown that cannabis can help inhibit the growth of, and even
kill the cells of, cancerous tumors. One of the major cannabinoids found in
(CBD), has shown to inhibit the progression of cancers located in the
breast, lung, prostate and colon in several animal trials3,7,8,15.
CBD has also shown to cause a dramatic drop in both mitochondrial oxidative
metabolism and the viability of the cells that make up brain tumors (glioma),
thereby having an antiproliferative effect. The administering of CBD to mice
has shown to significantly inhibit the growth of subcutaneously implanted
human glioma cells6.
One study found that administering a combination of CBD and
tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), another major cannabinoid found in cannabis,
four hours before radiation treatment increased the radiosensitivity of
cancer cells, which caused an increase in cell autophagy and apoptosis10.
CBD acid (CBDA), the acidic precursor of CBD, has shown to have the
capability of down-regulating invasive human breast cancer cells and
therefore preventing their growth11.
The same team of researchers later again found CBDA to effectively inhibit
the migration of breast cancer cells and identified the cannabinoid’s
downregulation of the proto-oncogene c-fox and the enzyme cyclooxygenate-2
to be the mechanisms responsible for its anti-cancer effect12.
Cannabis can also help patients manage the symptoms associated with
cancerous tumor treatments, such as nausea and pain15.
CBD has shown to be effective at treating the more difficult to control
nausea, as well as in preventing anticipatory nausea in patients preparing
One study found that THC reduced conditioned rejection and
In cancer patients with intractable pain that had proven intractable to
opioids, two weeks of THC and CBD treatments caused significant reductions
in pain levels2.
A survey found that after six to eight weeks of cannabis treatments, cancer
patients experienced significant improvements in all of the measured
cancer-related symptoms, which included nausea, vomiting, mood disorders,
fatigue, weight loss, anorexia, constipation, sexual function, sleep
disorders, itching, and pain1.
The National Cancer Institute, an organization run by the U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services, currently recognizes cannabis as an effective
treatment for providing relief of a number of symptoms associated with
cancer, including pain, nausea and vomiting, anxiety and loss of appetite.
States That Have Approved Medical Marijuana for Tumors
While no states have approved medical marijuana specifically for tumors,
nearly all states with medical marijuana programs have approved medical
marijuana for the treatment of cancer. These states include: Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona,California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan,Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New
Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode
Island, Vermont and Washington.
Although the state of Maryland hasn’t
approved medical marijuana to treat tumors or cancer, it has approved it for
the treatment of nausea and chronic pain, which are two symptoms commonly
associated with cancer treatment. In addition, in Washington
D.C., any condition can be approved for medical marijuana as long as a
DC-licensed physician recommends the treatment.
Recent Studies on Cannabis’ Effect on Tumors
CBDA inhibits the migration of breast cancer cells.
Cannabidiolic acid-mediated selective down-regulation of c-fos
in highly aggressive breast cancer MDA-MB-231 cells:
possible involvement of its down-regulation in the
abrogation of aggressiveness.
CBD produces significant antitumor activity in human brain
Antitumor effects of cannabidiol, a nonpsychoactive
cannabinoid, on human glioma cell lines.
CBD inhibits the progression of many types of cancer (glioblastoma,
breast, lung, prostate, colon).
The Antitumor Activity of Plant-Derived Non-Psychoactive
Bar-Sela, G., Vorobeichik, M., Drawsheh, S., Omer, A., Goldberg, V., and
Muller, E. (2013). The Medical Necessity for Medicinal Cannabis:
Prospective, Observational Study Evaluating the Treatment in Cancer
Patients on Supportive or Palliative Care. Evidence-Based
Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2013, 510392. Retrieved
Johnson, J.R., Burnell-Nugent, M., Lossignol, D., Ganae-Motan, E.D.,
Potts, R., and Fallon, M.T. (2010, February). Multicenter, double-blind,
randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study of the efficacy,
safety, and tolerability of THC: CBD extract and THC extract in patients
with intractable cancer-related pain. Journal
of Pain and Symptom Management, 39(2), 167-79.
Ligresti, A., Moriello, A.S., Starowicz, K., Matias, I., Pisanti, S., De
Petrocellis, L., Laezza, C., Portella, G., Bifulco, M., and Di Marzo, V.
(2006, September). Antitumor activity of plant cannabinoids with
emphasis on the effect of cannabidiol on human breast carcinoma. Journal
of Pharacologogy and Experimental Therapeutics, 318(3), 1375-87.
Limebeer, C.L., and Parker, L.A. (1999, December 16).
Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol interferes with the establishment and the
expression of conditioned rejection reactions produced by
cyclophosphamide: a rat model of nausea. Neuroreport,
Machado Rocha, F.C., Stefano, S.C., De Cassia Haiek, R., Rosa Oliveira,
L.M., and Da Silveira, D.X. (2008, September). Therapeutic use of
Cannabis sativa on chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting among cancer
patients: systematic review and meta-analysis. European
Journal of Cancer Care, 17(5), 431-43.
Massi,P., Vaccani, A., Ceruti, S., Colombo, A., Abbracchio, M.P., and
Parolaro, D. (2004, March). Antitumor effects of cannabidiol, a
nonpsychoactive cannabinoid, on human glioma cell lines. The
Journal of Pharmacology, 308(3), 838-45.
McAllister, S.D., Soroceanu, L., and Desprez, P.Y. (2015, June). The
Antitumor Activity of Plant-Derived Non-Psychoactive Cannabinoids. Journal
of Neuroimmune Pharmacology, 10(2), 255-67.
Orellana-Serradell, O., Poblete, C.E., Sanchez, C., Castellon, E.A.,
Gallegos, I., Huidobro, C., Llanos, M.N., and Contreras, H.R. (2015,
April). Proapoptotic effect of endocannabinoids in prostate cancer
Reports, 33(4), 1599-608.
Parker, L.A., Rock, E.M., and Limbeer, C.L. (2011, August). Regulation
of nausea and vomiting by cannabinoids. British
Journal of Pharmacology, 163(7), 1411-22.
Scott, K.A., Dalgleish, A.G., and Liu, W.M. (2014, November 14). The
combination of cannabidiol and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol enhances the
anticancer effects of radiation in an orthotopic murine glioma Model. Molecular
Cancer Therapeutics, doi: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-14-0402.
Takeda, S., Okazaki, H., Ikeda, E., Abe, S., Yoshioka, Y, Watanabe, K.,
and Aramaki, H. (2014). Down-regulation of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) by
cannabidiolic acid in human breast cancer cells. The
Journal of Toxicological Sciences, 39(5), 711-6.
Takeda, S., Himeno, T., Kakizoe, K., Okazaki, H., Okada, T., Watanabe,
K., and Aramaki, H. (2016, August 16). Cannabidiolic acid-mediated
selective down-regulation of c-fos in highly aggressive breast cancer
MDA-MB-231 cells: possible involvement of its down-regulation in the
abrogation of aggressiveness. Journal
of Natural Medicines, [Epub ahead of print], doi:
(2014, August 17). MedlinePlus.
Retrieved from https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001310.htm.
What are Tumors. (2015). John
Hopkins Medicine. Retrieved from http://pathology.jhu.edu/pc/BasicTy.
Wilkie, G., Sakr, B., and Rizack, T. (2016, May). Medical Marijuana Use
in Oncology. JAMA
Oncology, 2(5), 670-675.
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