October is breast cancer awareness month, so it’s worth discussing how breast cancer and marijuana interact. Many have argued that compounds found in cannabis have cancer fighting properties, and there’s actually solid evidence that marijuana can specifically help fight off breast cancer.
Researchers at the California Pacific Medical Research Center have been studying marijuana and breast cancer for years, and their latest study shows promising results. The study, published in 2014, found that the compound called cannabidiol (CBD) in marijuana appears to be able to stop a breast cancer tumor from growing.
“Right now we have a limited range of options in treating aggressive forms of cancer,” lead researcher Dr. Sean McAllister said in 2007. “Those treatments, such as chemotherapy, can be effective but they can also be extremely toxic and difficult for patients. This compound offers the hope of a non-toxic therapy that could achieve the same results without any of the painful side effects.”
McAllister has also stated in the past that THC may be useful for treating diseases like breast cancer.
“There has been a great deal of interest in understanding the molecular mechanisms behind how marijuana, and specifically THC, influence cancer pathology,” he said in 2014. “There has also been a drive in the pharmaceutical industry to create synthetic equivalents that might have anti-cancer properties.”
McAllister believes that since purity and concentration is important for properly treating cancers with cannabis compounds, synthetic versions need to be developed to maintain consistency.
“Our research uses an isolated chemical compound and using the correct concentration is vital,” he said. “Cancer patients should not use cannabis to self-medicate, but I hope that our research will lead to a safe synthetic equivalent being available in the future.”
One in eight women in the United States will get breast cancer in their lifetime, so this kind of research is extremely important. If we can develop methods that can stop or even kill the cancer without the terrible side effects of treatments like chemotherapy, then we can make a huge difference in the lives of millions of women (and some men, too).