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A wealth of recent research has found that cannabinoids, the active compounds in cannabis, prevent cancer from spreading, growing, and even cause tumor cells to die. But, how is all of this possible? We’ll tell you.
One problem with cancer cells is that they don’t stop growing. Once a malignancy begin, these clumped, abnormal cells continue to divide and conquer. New cells are continuously being made, then rapidly spread to other tissues in the body. This process of growing and spreading is called proliferation.
Here’s how cannabis can help: the active compounds in the herb are anti-proliferative, so spreading is not possible anymore!
A year earlier, in 2013, a team of Italian scientists found that non-psychoactive CBD protected against cancer cell migration, adhesion, and invasion. These terms simply the path cancer cells go through their development.
Back in 2010, researchers found that cannabis also had an anti-proliferative effect in deep infiltrating endometriosis, where painful lesions appear on various female reproductive organs. Endometriosis increases your risk of developing cancer.
When cancer cells migrate from part of the body to another, the cells become metastatic. The cell breaks away from the original tumor, travel through the blood or lymph system, and make a home elsewhere in the body. This is why some people with breast cancer later develop another one of the bone, liver, brain, or lungs.
Recent research discovered that cannabinoids block metastasis.
Over the past two decades, Spanish scientists at the Complutense University of Madrid have been studying the impact of cannabinoids and cancer cells.
For tumors to survive, they need blood. Unfortunately, they take all of the blood they need through a process called angiogenesis. This way your body enables tumors to grow blood vessels. They grow larger and larger until they impede normal bodily function.
Researchers have been trying to develop drugs which stop tumors from creating blood cells. Fortunately, cannabinoids seem to do just that.
In 2008, a Spanish research team led by Cristina Blázquez discovered that psychoactive THC (Delta 9 or Delta 8) weakens a tumor’s ability to develop new blood vessels. While the team looked at brain cancer cells, called gliomas specifically, they mention that the same effects have been found in melanomas and skin carcinomas as well.
Additional research from Vanderbilt University cited evidence that non-psychoactive CBD is also anti-angiogenic, though it works differently from THC. This is big news, as it shows that the active compounds in cannabis fight tumor cells in a variety of ways.
Already, cannabinoids stop tumor cells from spreading, slow down growth, and cut off their blood supply. But, can cannabis actually kill cancer cells? Research suggests that it can.
A recent study published in Current Oncology found that both THC and CBD were effective in killing neuroblastoma cells (most common tumors among children). And guess what, with this particular type of cancer, CBD was more effective.
But, how? Simply said, CBD caused the brain tumor cells to commit suicide. The technical name for cell suicide is apoptosis. It is a natural mechanism that the body uses to clear out cells that are damaged and ineffective.
This phenomenon is known as “programmed cell death” and it helps maintain the health of your cells. For some reason, cancer cells no longer die. They evade apoptosis.
Research as early as 1998 has found that cannabinoids like CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) trigger apoptosis in tumor cells, meaning they actually die.