Disease Health Studies 

Cannabis and Cancer

In the United States and worldwide, an increasing number of governmental entities are legalizing the use of cannabis for medical purposes. Cannabis, commonly known as marijuana, is a plant that grows all over the world. It has been used for medicinal purposes since ancient times.

The cannabis plant produces a resin with compounds called cannabinoids, active chemicals that function as drugs. They affect both the immune and nervous systems of the body. Some cannabinoids are psychoactive, and they act on the brain, affecting consciousness and mood. Cannabis can be inhaled, sprayed under the tongue, or ingested orally.

Many health experts believe cannabis is useful in the treatment of cancer. Cannabinoids have used for nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, relief of pain, and anxiety. Two cannabinoids, dronabinol and nabilone, are drugs that have been approved by the FDA (the U.S. Food and Drug Administration) for the prevention or treatment of the chemotherapy-related side effects of nausea and vomiting.

Cannabis is frequently used to treat pain. In addition, Christina Sanchez, a molecular biologist from Compultense University in Madrid, Spain, has been investigating the molecular activity of cannabinoids for over ten years. She and her colleagues have determined that THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the primary psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, triggers the death of tumor cells while leaving healthy cells intact. For Sanchez and her team, this was an unexpected discovery.

Studies in rats and mice show cannabinoids help prevent tumor growth by interfering with individual cell growth, causing the death of cells, and blocking development of blood vessels that feed tumors. The studies in the lab and with animals show these compounds can kill cancerous cells while protecting the healthy cells.

Other research studies have shown that cannabis offers treatment potential against nine forms of cancer: prostate cancer, oral cancer, brain cancer, liver cancer, pancreatic cancer, breast cancer, blood cancer, colon cancer, and lung cancer. It also increases the effectiveness of chemotherapy to treat AIDS.

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