Studies like the one published in the European Journal of Cancer Care back in 2008 have already evaluated that cannabis-based medication can help minimize nausea and vomiting resulting from chemotherapy in cancer patients. The results of this particular study were astounding. Dronabinol, the cannabis-based medication that they had used, proved to be more effective than “traditional” drugs when it came lowering the prevalence of vomiting in patients.
Similarly, studies have also been conducted to shed light on the use of cannabis for the treatment of cancer, such as a 2012 study from the Critical Reviews in Oncology/Hematology . The study supports various previous studies that have already noted that cannabis is able to alleviate cancer related symptoms in struggling patients. However, this paper also affirms the anti-cancer properties of cannabis. Thus, it has already been widely suggested that cannabis can not only help manage symptoms related to cancer, it can also help fight it too.
Overall, there are nine different types of cancer that cannabis can most recently help suppress. However, cannabis is now being hailed as somewhat of an innovative treatment for one particular type of cancer, namely cervical cancer.
What Is Cervical Cancer?
Cervical cancer typically develops in the cells lining of the cervix, which is the lower portion of the uterus that connects it to the vagina. However, the symptoms of cervical cancer in the early stages are rarely noticeable and only a screening test like a Pap smear or Pap test can help diagnose this cancer. Therefore, all women who are 21 years of age or older should regularly undergo this screening test. Every year, thousands of American women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and most of them have never had a Pap test performed.
Can Cannabis Really Help Treat Cervical Cancer?
A new study has been conducted in South Africa that suggests that cervical cancer could potentially be effectively treated with the use of cannabis.
The study was conducted at South Africa’s North-West University in Potchefstroom. The study was in vitro, i.e. performed in a petri dish or test tube. Researchers from the university’s biochemistry department were the ones conducting the study and they discovered that CBD (cannabidiol) may potentially possess anticarcinogenic properties. Cannabidiol is a chemical compound, a non-psychotropic cannabinoid that is present within a cannabis sativa extract. It was noted in the study that cannabidiol result in apoptosis, or the death of the cancerous cells only and it also prevented them growing further.
Women in the United States have become more cautious in the recent years, regularly undergoing Pap tests, and this has lead to a decrease in cervical cancer-related deaths. However, from a worldwide perspective, cervical cancer is still a prevalent threat. Every 250,000 African women in the Sub-Sahara region die due to cervical cancer (Specifically in African American women, this is the most fatal type of cancer and that is why the need for developing effective therapeutic strategies.) The study also compared the crude extract of cannabis sativa with cannabidiol in terms of what beneficial anti-proliferative effects on different cancerous cells from the cervix lining.
Of course, cannabis cannot yet be deemed an official treatment for women suffering from cervical cancer in sub-Saharan Africa because further research needs to be conducted. Then again, as mentioned above, plenty of studies have also been conducted and have revealed that cannabis can both effectively minimize cancer- and chemotherapy-related symptoms, and help treat the cancer itself.
Back in 2010, a study was published in the journal of Current Clinical Pharmacology. The researchers had discovered that cannabis could actually potentially help prevent cancer because it reduces inflammation. According to the researchers, minimizing inflammation is an effective strategy in minimizing the risk and threat of cancer. The 2012 study from Oncology/Hematology mentioned earlier had also highlighted the anti-cancer effects of cannabis. The researchers had conducted (both in vitro and in vivo tests,) and in both cases, the cannabinoids from cannabis had prevented cancerous tumors from growing further.
Several other studies have been conducted to find out whether or not cannabis can effectively help treat cervical cancer, in particular. In 2004, Switzerland’s University Hospital in Geneva had published a study in Gynecologic Oncology. The study highlighted the fact that even the human body has its own endocannabinoids and stated that such cannabinoids, including those from cannabis, could be used to develop new, more effective and powerful anticancer medications.
Is Cannabis Not Carcinogenic Itself?
When it comes to smoking cannabis, over the years there have been concerns that inhaling cannabis smoke may lead to the development of lung cancer in a similar manner to smoking tobacco products like cigarettes. In 2014, a survey was conducted that encompassed thousands of different studies. The goal had been to determine whether smoking cannabis could be potentially linked to the risk of developing lung cancer. A detailed analysis was performed and ultimately, the researchers had only managed to discover a weak relationship between the smoking of cannabis and the development of lung cancer. According to those researchers, there is not even sufficient evidence to support that habitually smoking cannabis might increase the risk of lung cancer.
Back in 2005, a similar study had been published in the Harm Reduction Journal and it also supported the claim that cannabis smoke is not the same as tobacco smoke, or as carcinogenic as it. The conclusion was that tobacco smoke is the real culprit in causing lung cancer, while smoking may not lead to a similar consequence. In other words, smoking cannabis and smoking tobacco products is not inherently the same.
Of course, there have also been contradicting studies too, suggesting that cannabis smoke may have carcinogenic effects, especially in people already suffering from cancer. However, it is worth noting that these effects are only limited to cannabis smoke and does not change the anti-cancer properties of cannabis for the treatment of cervical cancer as discussed above.
For this reason, pharmaceutical-style marijuana comes in the form of capsules, tinctures and vaporizable oils. This way, cannabis can be ingested, or inhaled in vapor-form. This way, even the minor, potential risk associated with smoking cannabis and inhaling cannabis smoke can be avoided. Ultimately, the approval of cannabis use for the treatment of cervical cancer in Africa could prove to be ground breaking and save a multitude of female lives, and potentially those of other cancer patients.