Cannabis has proven effective in the treatment of brain cancer


An MRI image showing brain cancer. Photo: Tdvorak

Early stage research by Complutense University in Madrid and the University Hospital of Tenerife that was published in the medical journal, Cancer Research, in 2004 showed that cannabinoids ? chemicals derived from cannabis ? helped in the treatment of a form of brain tumour, glioblastoma multiforme, which is the most common in humans. Only 10 percent of people survive it. Mice and later two people were studied.

Cannabinoids hamper the activity of vascular endothelial growth factor, genes that help new cells to grow. As cancer spreads, it needs to grow its own blood vessels. Without a blood supply to bring food and remove waste, cancer can grow no larger than a pea.

Another study

Research at the University of London in 2014 found that the cannabinoids, delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, which gets you stoned) and cannabidiol (CBD, which, regrettably, doesn’t), dramatically slowed the growth of brain tumours in mice. According to Senior Research Fellow Dr Wai Liu, it was best to use cannabinoids and radiation together, which produced ?the most beneficial results and a drastic reduction in size? – the cancer sometimes disappeared completely.

Even more studies

Other studies highlighting the usefulness of cannabis against brain tumours were published in The Journal of Neuroscience and The Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, looking at rats and humans respectively.

What does the US government think?

The US National Institute on Drug Abuse disapproves of medical marijuana but in 2015 conceded on its website that cannabis extracts could kill or reduce the size of some cancers, citing the studies mentioned above. The agency has been accused of hampering research into medical pot through its monopoly on cannabis grown for research. Although the US government admits that cannabis is clearly a medicine, the US government does not recognise cannabis as a medicine, with the Food and Drug Administration holding that there have been insufficient clinical trials to determine whether marijuana for medicine is of benefit and managing to ignore all the clinical trials that established exactly that. Despite cannabis not being a medicine, the Food and Drug Administration has approved two medications that contain cannabinoids. In dear old Blighty, THC is the active ingredient of the prescription drug, Sativex, used to relieve muscle spasms in MS patients.

An illustrative example

One tale of the efficacy of cannabis in treating brain tumours which was picked up by the BBC and others is that of 38-year-old father-of-one, Kieran McCrory of Omagh, County Tyrone, who was given nine months to live when he was diagnosed with a brain tumour two years back. Brain surgery and radiation treatment did him no good; he tried cannabis oil when radiation treatment left him exhausted, putting it in his coffee and cooking with it. Thanks to cannabis oil, he was feeling poorly and lying abed one day and ?walking around the next day, chatting and reading books.? After a year of this, doctors informed him that the tumour had stopped growing and no further treatment was required.

McCrory was overjoyed :”I can be optimistic about spending a good length of time on this planet with my wife and child.? He claims that doctors informed him, ?If it’s working ? keep doing it.? He foresees continuing using cannabis oil for the rest of his life and wishes to reach the age of 80.

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