National Cancer Institute Study Reveals Cancer Cells Killed By Cannabinoids

By John Lavitt 09/21/15

Cannabinoids could be used to treat a wide variety of cancers.


The National Cancer Institute recently revealed that cannabinoids, an active chemical compound in marijuana, have been shown to kill cancer cells in preclinical studies, leading to the conclusion that, “Cannabinoids may be useful in treating the side effects of cancer and cancer treatment.”

Although the main active cannabinoid in cannabis is delta-9-THC, the active cannabinoid highlighted by the NCI is cannabidiol (CBD). Separated from active ingredient, CBD may relieve pain and lower inflammation without resulting in the typical "high" that characterizes the use of delta-9-THC.

When asked if any preclinical studies in the laboratory and potentially with animal subjects have been conducted using cannabis or cannabinoids, the major disclosure is revealed. Several preclinical studies have shown that cannabinoids can promote anti-tumor activity that kills cancer cells.

“Studies in mice and rats have shown that cannabinoids may inhibit tumor growth by causing cell death, blocking cell growth, and blocking the development of blood vessels needed by tumors to grow," the institute said. "Laboratory and animal studies have shown that cannabinoids may be able to kill cancer cells while protecting normal cells.”

Moreover, another study in mice showed that cannabinoids have potential in reducing the risk of colon cancer. The cannabinoids seem to protect against inflammation of the colon, showing possible value both as a preventative approach and as a treatment methodology.

The institute went on to say that, “a laboratory study of delta-9-THC in hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer) cells showed that it damaged or killed the cancer cells. The same study of delta-9-THC in mouse models of liver cancer showed that it had antitumor effects. Delta-9-THC has been shown to cause these effects by acting on molecules that may also be found in non-small cell lung cancer cells and breast cancer cells.”

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Growing up in Manhattan as a stutterer, John Lavitt discovered that writing was the best way to express himself when the words would not come. After graduating with honors from Brown University, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos, studying with his mentor, the late American poet Robert Lax. As a writer, John’s published work includes three articles in Chicken Soup For The Soul volumes and poems in multiple poetry journals and compilations. Active in recovery, John has been the Treatment Professional News Editor for The Fix. Since 2015, he has published over 500 articles on the addiction and recovery news website. Today, he lives in Los Angeles, trying his best to be happy and creative. Find John on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.