CBD’s potential as a treatment for cancer and cancer related symptoms is well documented.
Cannabidiol (CBD) has been shown to have significant analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and anxiolytic activity without the psychoactive effect (high) of delta-9-THC. These properties can be helpful for patients that are looking for ways to manage the symptoms related to cancer.
CBD has antitumor effects as well. For example, preclinical studies have shown that CBD can induce programmed cell death in breast cancer cells, has a chemo-preventive effect in a mouse model of colon cancer, can inhibit cell proliferation and survival in glioblastoma cell lines, and can increase ICAM-1 (a molecule that plays a role in cell signaling) levels which results in a decrease of tumor cell invasion and metastasis.
Studies show that CBD treatment may be effective against leukemia and lymphoma cells, lung cancer cells, and even endocrine tumors.
However, researchers believe that CBD may be a potent agent for combatting cervical cancer too. In fact, several major studies have found evidence that CBD could be the key to successfully treating cervical cancer in women.
Cervical Cancer is a Leading Cause of Death
In the U.S., cervical cancer was once the leading cause of cancer death for women but over the last few decades, the number of cases of cervical cancer and the number of deaths from cervical cancer have decreased significantly. This decline largely is the result of many women getting regular Pap tests or Pap smears, which can find cervical pre-cancer before it turns into cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society’s “Cancer Facts & Figures 2017”, an estimated 12,820 cases of invasive cervical cancer will be diagnosed in the US in 2017 while an estimated 4,210 deaths from cervical cancer will occur in 2017.
But while cervical cancer rates have slowed in the U.S., the situation is very different for women in third world countries.
According to the World Cancer Research Fund International, about 84% of cervical cancer cases in the world occurred in less developed countries and the highest incidence of cervical cancer was in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. In Sub-Saharan Africa in particular, over a quarter of a million women die of cervical cancer annually. This makes it the most lethal cancer amongst black women by far.
Although increasing access to Pap tests would be highly effective in lowering the prevalence of cervical cancers, it may not be the most practical solution in Sub-Saharan Africa. This is why researchers are investigating the potential development of CBD to prevent and/or treat this deadly disease.
Preliminary Study Results for CBD and Cancer
In a study on CBD and lung cancer published in the journal Biochemical Pharmacology, German researchers evaluated the impact of CBD on cancer cell invasion and found that CBD inhibited invasion of human cervical cancer cells (HeLa, C33A) as well as human lung cancer cells (A549). The authors concluded that the findings showed promise for CBD’s use as an option for treating highly invasive cancers.
CBD May Help Invasive Cancers
In a more recent study published in 2016 in the open access journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, researchers from the biochemistry department at North-West University in Potchefstroom, South Africa, compared the anti-proliferative effects of cannabis sativa extracts with the anti-proliferative effects of CBD on different cervical cancer cell lines (SiHa, HeLa, and ME-180). Because cannabis extracts were previously reported to have antiproliferative properties, the researchers wanted to see if it was the presence of CBD that was responsible for the reported effects.
The researchers also found that while the cannabis sativa extracts caused a reduction in the ATP levels, CBD either slightly or severely depleted ATP levels as well. Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is a nucleotide known as the cell’s energy currency. A reduction of the ATP levels compromises the status of the cell and often leads to cell death either by apoptosis or necrosis, while an increase is indicative of cell proliferation.
Finally, the researchers also found that the cannabis extracts induced cell death with or without cell cycle arrest while CBD induced cell death without cell cycle arrest. Cell cycle arrest occurs when DNA damage occurs, or when the cell detects any defects which causes it to delay or halt the cell cycle.
Because CBD produced nearly identical effects on cancer cell lines as the extracts and in some cases was able to be more effective, the researchers concluded that the presence of CBD was indeed responsible for the effectiveness of the cannabis extracts and might be the main compound responsible for cell death in cancer cells.
More Studies Needed for CBD and Cancer Links
The scientific literature to date has shown immense promise for CBD to be developed as an anti-cancer drug. Unfortunately, these results need to be replicated with successful human clinical trials before we can begin to form any kind of meaningful conclusions.
Nevertheless, the preclinical studies so far have produced exciting results and have formed a nice basis from which to expand our knowledge. As research into cannabinoids marches forward, many people are confident that CBD will ultimately prove to be the largest human healthcare story of our generation.
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