Does Cannabis Actually Cure Cancer in Ohio?
“In 2019, there will be an estimated 1,762,450 new cancer cases diagnosed and 606,880 cancer deaths in the United States.” (1) 442 out of every 100,000 men and women are newly diagnosed and 161 per 100,000 men and women die from cancer per year based on 2012-2016 statistics. (2) Cancer is the second leading cause of death in our country. Medical cannabis has not been proven to heal any specific types of cancer, but studies have shown it is helpful in many other ways including pain relief, easing side effects of cancer treatments, slowing or interrupting cancer cell growth, and offering protection from the destructive force of cancer. Our 5-minute eligibility survey can tell you if you pre-qualify to become a medical cannabis patient in Florida. At your first appointment you can talk to one of our Ohio Medical Marijuana Doctors about using cannabis to help ease the side effects of cancer treatment or the symptoms of a number of other health conditions.
Cancer is a destructive force. It begins as an out-of-control abnormal growth of cells in the body. Normally the immune system shuts this kind of process down, but cancer overrides the body’s protective mechanisms. Instead of dying when they get old, these cells mutate, divide, and continue to grow. Some types of cancer involve tumors, or masses of irregular cells; in other cases, no tumors appear. (3) Cancer can spread locally, to surrounding tissue, or even to different parts of the body by traveling through the blood or the lymph system. (4) As this happens, the body’s defenses are weakened and unable to fight off the invading cells. This weakness, combined with the side effects of cancer treatment, can result in a host of symptoms for patients. While there is currently no scientific proof that cannabis cures cancer, Ohio medical cannabis patients may find it helps them cope with and relieve many of the problems they face as a result of the disease process and its treatment protocol.
- Chemotherapy-related pain resulting from agents such as cisplatin often involves nerve-based symptoms or neuropathy and can be a major factor in patients deciding to stop treatment early. THC and anandamide have been recognized for their ability to lessen this kind of pain by binding to CB1 & CB2 receptors. In fact, not only did cannabis offer relief comparable to morphine for these patients, but the effects lasted longer; it also performed better than gabapentin (Neurontin) in both duration and quality of relief. (5)
- Cancer-induced bone pain (CIBP) is common in 75%-95% of patients with advanced or metastatic cancer. It presents a challenge for patients and physicians alike when it comes to treatment because the cause of this type of pain remains mostly unclear. Clinical studies on animals show that targeting CB1 & CB2 receptors with endocannabinoids may help relieve bone or skeletal pain, offering the potential for patients suffering from this type of pain to obtain effective and safe results without the side effects of opioids. (6)
Nausea and Vomiting
- Chemotherapy patients can suffer from two different types of nausea: the first is caused by the treatment itself, while the second kind is called anticipatory nausea and is caused by anxiety related to the treatment itself. While vomiting can usually be minimized by using antiemetic medications, current pharmaceutical drugs are often hit-or-miss when it comes to effectively controlling both types of nausea in chemo patients. Δ-9 THC and CBD have been proven to decrease both nausea and vomiting when given in therapeutic doses. In addition, Δ-8 THC has been shown effective in easing nausea in children receiving chemotherapy without producing the psychoactive effects of Δ-9 THC. (7)
Bone Loss and Pain in Bone Cancer
- Triggering CB2 receptors through the use of endocannabinoids can help slow the growth of bone cancer cells, increase their death or destruction, and limit their invasion into bone and other tissues. The endocannabinoid system helps in the restoration of bone balance in patients facing this disease. In addition, it helps decrease the severe bone pain caused by this type of cancer. (8)
- Δ-9 THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids have been shown to slow or inhibit the progression of breast cancer in animals as well as relieving tumor-associated symptoms such as nausea, lack of appetite, and nerve pain. This is true for both estrogen-receptor positive and estrogen resistant types of breast cancer. Cannabinoids act by inhibiting the growth of cancer cells, causing their destruction and death, and interfering with their ability to invade and spread; they also decrease inflammation, which lowers pain and oxidative stress caused by cell death. Additionally, CBD has been noted to increase the response of the body to chemotherapeutic drugs like vincristine as well as boosting the effectiveness of radiation therapy.
- THC slows the onset and delays the growth of small (<2cm) focal tumors in the breast and lung tissue that occur in metastatic breast cancer.
- CBD helps minimize the negative effects of the chemotherapy drug cisplatin on the kidneys by reducing inflammation and improving kidney function. It also reduces breast tumor growth and decreases the tumor volume, extending the life of the animals in the study.
- In this study, a cannabis extract was shown to be more effective than THC and CBD, stressing the importance of the “entourage effect” when used as part of breast cancer treatment. (9)
- This is the third most common type of cancer worldwide. It usually requires a three-pronged treatment involving surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. A drug referred to as TRAIL (TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand) is currently the standard chemo drug used, but it shows limitations due to cell death resistance and a short window of effectiveness. CBD was studied as a potential addition to TRAIL treatment in order to help increase its ability to cause cell death and help destroy these solid tumors. In this study CBD enhanced the ability of TRAIL to bring about cell death, working with the drug to cause colon cancer cell destruction without affecting normal colon cells. (10)
Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM)
- This is the most frequent type of brain tumor. It is also the most aggressive due to how poorly it responds to treatment. The average time of survival under the best of conditions is 12-15 months. Δ-9 THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids help reduce the reproduction of Glioma Initiating Cells (GICs), thought to be responsible for relapses leading to death by causing tumor regrowth.
- When used in tandem with the drug of choice for GBM, known as TMZ, cannabinoids also help reduce the growth of these tumor cells, increasing quality of life and enhancing survival. Higher doses of CBD (at a ratio of up to 1:5 CBD/THC) seem to be more effective in this combination, even causing cell death at these higher concentrations. CBD alone is not effective; THC is necessary for this process to take place. (11)
- A study combining vincristine (one of the two most common drugs used to treat leukemia) with THC and CBD revealed that when used together, the cannabinoids enabled the dose of the chemotherapy drug to be dramatically reduced while not losing its effectiveness. The cancer cells were more responsive to treatment, there was a greater reduction in their numbers, and there were fewer side effects because of the decreased dosage of the drug.
- The combination of THC and CBD increased the ability of TMZ to destroy cancer cells, especially when the cannabinoids were administered after the chemotherapy, once again showing the benefit of the entourage effect. (12)
General Anticancer Properties of Cannabis
- Cannabinoids act on CB1 & CB2 receptors to damage and destroy a variety of cancer cells.
- The activation of CB1 receptors suppresses tumors and slows tumor growth.
- Cannabinoids enhance the immune system, increasing resistance and enabling the body to fight off immunodeficiency.
- They help inhibit the formation of new blood vessels in tumors (angiogenesis).
- By interfering with necessary hormones such as estrogen, cannabinoids can limit the growth of certain tumors.
- CBD is being studied for its potential to promote cancer cell death without utilizing CB1 and CB2 receptors.
- While cannabinoids work with anti-cancer drugs to enhance their actions, they can also help limit the action of cancer cells on their own. (13)
Cancer patients who apply for and receive their Ohio medical cannabis card have access to a medication that can help them live a better life. Cannabinoids play an important role in fighting illness and maintaining optimal health by boosting the immune system, stimulating the appetite, helping regulate the sleep/wake cycle, regulating the pain response, and easing the symptoms of depression that often accompany chronic health conditions.
Dr. Glider is a board certified Internal Medicine Specialist. He received his Florida Medical Marijuana Physicians Certification in 2017 and was one of the first recommending physicians with DocMJ. In addition to medical marijuana recommendations, Dr. Glider continues to practice Internal and Geriatric Medicine in private practice. Additionally, he serves as Medical Director for a home health company, supervising and educating staff, as well as supervising an advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners for a transitional care program.
Dr. Glider graduated from the College of Osteopathic Medicine & Surgery in Des Moines, IA and completed his residency at Saddlebrook General Hospital in Saddlebrook, NJ. He has received several honors and awards throughout his professional career, including a City of Des Moines Merit Award and a Chamber of Commerce Award (Port St. Lucie, FL). Dr. Glider is an experienced and caring physician who is loved and respected by his peers and his patients.