Marijuana for Cancer Prevention
Research into the health effects of cannabis have yielded a mixed bag (so to speak) of results. Predictably, studies that have looked for harmful effects have found them. But there are also beneficial effects, the most surprising of which involve the ability of cannabinoids to combat cancer.
Of course, smoke (of any kind) is not good for you, and the available evidence (see this study and also this review) seems to show that smoking marijuana brings roughly the same increase in lung-cancer risk as smoking tobacco. But that's not where the story ends.
In one two-year study involving THC, a dose-related decrease in the incidence of hepatic adenoma tumors and hepatocellular carcinoma was observed in mice, and decreased incidences of benign tumors (polyps and adenomas) in mammary gland, uterus, pituitary, testis, and pancreas were noted in rats. In another study, delta-9-THC, delta-8-THC, and cannabinol were seen to inhibit growth of lung adenocarcinoma cells in vitro and in vivo.
In yet another study, cannabinoids reduced the viability of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cells in vitro and demonstrated antitumor effects in HCC subcutaneous xenografts in mice.
An in vitro study of the effect of cannabidiol on programmed cell death in breast cancer cell lines found that the chemical induced programmed cell death and inhibited survival of both estrogen receptor–positive and estrogen receptor–negative breast cancer cell lines, inducing apoptosis in a concentration-dependent manner while having little effect on nontumorigenic mammary cells.
Cannabidiol has also been demonstrated to exert a chemopreventive effect in a mouse model of colon cancer.
For a list of 37 studies showing beneficial effects of cannabis, see the National Cancer Institute's page on cannabis.
How is it that cannabinoids are able to fight cancer? Apparently, THC and its relatives are able to facilitate apoptosis (programmed cell death) in neoplastic tissues, hastening the death of cancer cells. But also, cannabinoids exert an anti-inflammatory effect, and it is well known that anti-inflammatory drugs tend to have anti-cancer properties.
It should be stressed that the studies showing positive results did not use smoke as a delivery mechanism. If you decide to light up, you're probably driving your cancer odds in the wrong direction.
Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.
- Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
- At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
- Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?
- Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
- Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
- Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.
It's not just a case of "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger."
- A new study suggests children who endure trauma grow up to be adults with more empathy than others.
- The effect is not universal, however. Only one kind of empathy was greatly effected.
- The study may lead to further investigations into how people cope with trauma and lead to new ways to help victims bounce back.
Do you have a magnetic compass in your head?
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.