Researchers have been focusing on the potential benefits that cannabis can offer in the fight against many types of cancer. One particular cancer, Leukemia, is attracting a lot of interest. In general, many cancer patients have sought the use of cannabis for alleviating some symptoms such as chronic pain, and nausea which often results from the chemotherapy. But, can cannabis be used to treat the cancer itself?
It can be argued that Leukemia requires a cure quickly. It is one of the most common types of childhood cancers, with around 250,000 children around the world currently suffering from it.
What is Leukemia?
Leukemia is a type of blood cancer which can affect the bone marrow aswell as the white blood cells of the sufferer. These white blood cells are a critical part of the immune system of the individual as they help prevent infection.
Chemotherapy is the most common treatment method for Leukemia. But, the success of chemotherapy reduces if the cancer has spread, especially to the CNS, skin and gums. Tumors can also form. When in remission, sometimes the Leukemia can come back.
Can Marijuana Help Leukemia?
Marijuana’s widespread appeal in the treatment of many medical conditions is in part due to the endocannabinoid system. These cannabinoid receptors are found throughout the body, including the white blood cells. Because of these receptors in the white blood cells, researchers believe that cannabis can be used in the treatment of Leukemia.
A study from 2002 documented that THC had a positive effect on cell death in a wide variety of Leukemia cells. That same study also identified that THC could be used to reduce the growth of tumors in mice, with around 25% being totally cured from the THC. Obviously, this needs to be replicated in humans rather than mice.
Researchers have also looked at CBD, aswell as THC. CBD is a non-psychoactive compound which is found in cannabis. A study conducted in 2006 found that CBD had a positive effect by killing cancer cells in both human and animals. These results are especially encouraging. The researchers said that Cannabidiol (CBD) could be a highly selective and targeted treatment for Leukemia.
A more recent study has suggested that THC could make Leukemia cells be more sensitive to chemotherapy, which in turn leads to increased rates of cell death.
While it is encouraging to see these results from studies potentially having a positive benefit on Leukemia, it is important to draw your attention to the fact that no clinical trials have been carried out. This means that there is no hard evidence to say whether marijuana can kill cancer cells on its own, and cannabis as a widespread treatment option is currently a long way off.
But, this hasn’t stopped Leukemia sufferers from using cannabis themselves, and results have been mixed. There is anecdotal evidence to suggest cannabis could have positive effect. We remain hopeful that cannabis can be a viable treatment option for sufferers in the future.