The Four Most Impactful Cannabis Research Studies on Cancer


Past and present cannabis research studies are gathering evidence that cannabinoid therapy is a viable treatment for cancer.

With legalization growing across the globe, so too is cannabis research. While there are still some significant roadblocks, particularly with Scheduling in the US, change is coming.  Gaining access to work on this important medicine can only continue to grow, but we also want to give a nod to the ones that came before us. These are some of the most important cannabis research studies of all time.

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The Virginia Study: Cannabis Reduces Tumor Size

The Virginia Study is one of the most cited pieces of research to demonstrate how the government has hindered research into cannabis and cancer.

The study took place in 1974, when cannabis was still heavily linked to ‘hippies’ and racism. What went forward was a study to find out how the plant endangers the immune system actually ended up discovering that CBD and THC decreases tumour size. Originally funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), when the results didn’t come back the way the funding body wanted, money was cut off.

The researchers treated tumors in mice them with THC. After 20 days, it was found that the tumours had significantly reduced in size. Only one long-forgotten article in the Washington Post published the results, and the results were all but forgotten.

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Smoking Cannabis Does Not Cause Lung Cancer

More recently, the concern between the link to cannabis and lung cancer has arisen in scientific circles. This isn’t unrealistic. Combusting any sort of organic matter has potential to become carcinogenic, so naturally, cannabis may have the same effect.

A study in 2006 found that the concern may not be as great as people originally believed. The study was, at the time, the largest case-control study on the topic of cancer and cannabis. Funded by NIDA, researchers looks at 1200 head, neck, and throat cancer patients in Los Angeles, matched against 1040 participants (without cancer) that were congruent for age, sex, and neighborhood. The findings were that there was no association between cancer and smoking cannabis, but there was a 20 fold increase in cancer risk for those who smoked 2+ packs per day of cigarettes.

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Cannabis Reduce Side Effects of Chemotherapy

It’s generally agreed among doctors that cannabis can assist in reduction of chemotherapy side effects. And it’s no wonder – proof of this has been coming in since 1975. The original study was conducted by Professor Lester Grinspoon of Harvard Medical School, originally to stop his friend, renowned astronomer Carl Sagan, from using cannabis.

What Grinspoon found, however, was that much of his understanding of the negative effects of cannabis were inaccurate. He went on to write a book, Marihuana Reconsidered,  in 1971. He also found that cannabis helped with the negative side effects of chemotherapy after his 15-year-old son was diagnosed with leukemia.

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CBD Prevents Metastasis in Breast and Prostate Cancers

In a recent study, researchers found that CBD may be able to stop the metastasis of breast cancer by blocking the ld-1 protein. This protein helps cancer spread and become more aggressive.

Previous research was conducted on mice, but involved antisense gene therapy to de-activate the protein. However, this is not possible on humans. Due to prior research on the subject, the researchers believed that CBD may be able to take the place of this gene therapy and be used to block ld-1. Fortunately, this proved to be true.

Meanwhile, researchers have performed similar tests on prostate cancer. They found that CBD and THC could both be used to prevent metastasis and also potentially cause apoptosis, or cell deasth, in the cancer cells.

This is big news. CBD’s ability to prevent the spread of cancer cells is a big step in saving lives and allowing cancer-killing treatments to do their job more quickly.

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The future looks bright for cannabis medicine and for human health. Human clinical trials will move ahead in countries that support cannabis research studies, such as Canada and Israel.


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