• April 14, 2021

Study: Marijuana Helps Hinder Spread of Deadliest Brain Cancer

 Study: Marijuana Helps Hinder Spread of Deadliest Brain Cancer

Cancer surgeons. Photo from National Cancer Institute.

Kingston University research scientists from the School of Life Sciences in the UK have collected data suggesting that cannabis can slow and prevent the spread of the deadliest brain cancer in the world. 

Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is a cancer located in the center of the brain with a close proximity to the central nervous system, spine and hippocampus. 

GBM is the most common brain cancer, characterized by extremely rapid growth and high rates of recurrence. The average maximum life expectancy after diagnosis is 15 months, accounting for 3-4% of all cancer deaths annually. 

Researchers concluded from analyzing studies based on experiments with mice, cell cultures and humans how cannabis has “anticancer potencies against glioma cells” when coupled with other forms of treatment such as radiotherapy or chemotherapy. 

Overall, the study’s findings indicate cannabis helps mitigate serious brain cancers

Kingston University researchers

To break down the science, the body has naturally occurring cannabis receptors (CB1 and CB2) from the brain to the liver and also produces natural cannabis compounds on its own. When these receptors are activated, enzymes are formed and begin a process known as apoptosis: the normal death of cells to control the growth of different organisms in the body. 

Cannabis compounds like THC and CBD mimic naturally occurring cannabis compounds, binding easily to cannabis receptors and facilitating the body’s regulation of unwanted organisms and preventing cancer by inducing apoptosis. 

Processes like apoptosis triggered by cannabis compounds help stop the spread and growth of tumors. 

“Cannabinoids can cause cell cycle arrest, inhibit cell proliferation and elicit cell death, which leads to the prevention of tumour spread,” the researchers wrote.  

Kingston researchers examined data in a 2018 study from the Complutense University of Madrid, Spain, which observed the combination of different cannabis compounds with other forms of treatment. 

Noted in the study by the Spanish researcher Valero Lopéz was how small amounts of THC coupled with CBD and chemotherapy “is essential, in order to observe an enhanced anticancer activity.” 

Valero acknowledged how CBD, THC and radiation therapy combined showed a “significant reduction in tumour progression.” 

In a 2017 study done by researchers at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, the simultaneous administration of CBD with radiation therapy increased attacks on glioma cancer cells up to 90%, showing a drastic hindrance in the rapid growth of GBM typically seen. 

Earlier in 2016 a different research group from Complutense University conducted experiments to show how THC alone interacted with GBM cancer cells. In a process similar to apoptosis, THC stimulated autophagy: the consumption of the body’s own tissue when diseases are present.

Researchers from Complutense found how proteins produced from CBs interaction with THC caused an “autophagy-mediated cell death in human glioma tumours” to reduce tumor cell growth and its ability to spread through blood vessels. 

In 2015 researchers from the University of Insubria in Italy looked at CBD’s use in the treatment of recurrent GBM patients. Their experiments indicated CBD’s capacity to decrease the production of cancer creating proteins found in GBM: 

“CBD caused a dose dependent decrease in cell invasiveness with the strongest reduction being 90% at 12μM,” researchers wrote. 

CBD also showed an improvement in the efficacy of chemotherapy when treating GBM, inducing an increased cancer cell killing response. 

CBD’s effects on brain cancers like Glioblastoma multiforme coupled with additional treatment methods slows and prevents the process of cancer growth. With common treatment methods like chemotherapy with THC, the cell killing process of deadly brain cancer increases. 

Overall, the study’s findings indicate cannabis helps mitigate serious brain cancers, like GBM. This study also reveals an opportunity for an increased use of cannabis as a viable and legitimate treatment method for people with serious brain tumors.

Though these findings are important in how cannabis can treat brain cancer and other diseases, treatment has to be discussed with your doctor: self medicating cannabis does not prevent brain cancer if you do not have it. 

Brain cancer treatment through cannabis is best with a balanced set of treatments that are specific for each person. It will take more research to understand what combination of methods works for different people and at what stage of brain cancer development cannabis can maximize recovery. 

Daniel Karny

Daniel Karny is a sophomore at the State University of Rutgers New Brunswick majoring in political science with a minor in law and history. In his spare time he enjoys strumming his six string and hiking around New Jersey.

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