There is still much research to be done, but cannabidiol (CBD) has already shown promising results in cancer trials, with potential anti-cancer properties and the ability to help improve the side effects of chemotherapy.
Cancer has a huge impact on the United States and the global population, as one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Each year, cancer kills nearly 600,000 Americans alone. Nearly 40 percent of men and women will be diagnosed with some form of cancer in their lifetime. With such a prevalent disease, the success of existing research further underscores the importance of and need for continued CBD studies in the treatment and prevention of cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, CBD oil can slow the growth and spread of some kinds of cancer in animals. As an anti-cancer agent, CBD has shown the potential to affect the genes involved in the spread of cancer. Because inflammation and oxidative stress are both linked to cancer, and CBD has both anti-inflammatory properties and the capacity to fight oxidative stress, this may account for part of the reason why CBD has shown successful results in fighting cancer cells. In Canada, CBD has already been approved for the treatment of cancer-related pain.
A study conducted in Japan showed that CBD stopped the spread of aggressive breast cancer. It has also shown protective actions against lung cancer, thyroid cancer, cervical cancer, liver disease, and protection for the brain against stress and damage.
Prior studies have also shown success with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component of the hemp plant, in preventing and reducing tumors and killing cancer cells. It is believed that in combination, CBD and THC may be even stronger in the fight against cancer, though the best ratio and most effective dose are yet to be discovered.
An advantage to cannabinoid-based medicine is that the compounds are only targeting tumor cells, with no toxic effect on normal cells, offering a protective effect to normal cells while targeting cancer cells. This is in contrast to standard chemotherapy, which targets almost everything in order to get the cancer cells.
For the treatment and prevention of skin cancers, topical products with concentrated hemp or CBD oils are gaining popularity after well-documented cases of success. When applied topically, hemp is not psychoactive. With both CBD and THC topical products, patients have claimed to cure both melanoma and carcinoma-type skin cancers.
In a Men’s Health Study focused on the association between hemp use and bladder cancer with more than 84,000 participants, hemp use was associated with a 45 percent reduction in bladder cancer incidence in this population.
While human treatment studies have been limited, a study conducted on mice with pancreatic cancer who were treated with a combination of CBD and chemotherapy survived nearly three times longer than those treated with chemotherapy alone, showing promise for future results. Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest forms of cancer in survival rates, and the 12th most common cancer. With only a 7 percent rate of five-year survival reported by the American Cancer Society, the discovery of new treatments is desperately needed.
CBD treatment in chemotherapy studies is gaining ground as well, as it has shown success in improving the side effects of chemo, including nausea and vomiting.
As more animal research supports the anti-cancer properties of the compound, the need for additional human studies is becoming more and more justified. Since CBD is already approved for use in clinics in the UK, human clinical trials may be able to move quickly abroad compared to the states. In the United States, CBD is still illegal under federal law, but hemp-derived products are legal.
CBD has seen progress with the FDA approval of the first drug to contain CBD in June of 2018, used to treat severe forms of epilepsy.
As legalization progresses, the promising studies on the medical benefits of CBD can help us better understand the potential of this compound and other hemp-derived medications, and research is only projected to increase. CBD has shown that it has cancer-fighting properties, can relieve chronic pain, decrease seizure severity, and help to reduce anxiety and depression, among other successful results in treatment and prevention of common ailments.
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