Just in time for the Big Pink, the National Cancer Institute, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has finally updated its website to admit that cannabinoids have anti-tumor effects in pre-clinical studies.
The page says:
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. Laboratory and animal studies have shown that cannabinoids may be able to kill cancer cells while protecting normal cells.
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.
A laboratory study of cannabidiol (CBD) in estrogen receptor positive and estrogen receptor negative breast cancer cells showed that it caused cancer cell death while having little effect on normal breast cells. Studies in mouse models of metastatic breast cancer showed that cannabinoids may lessen the growth, number, and spread of tumors.
A laboratory study of cannabidiol (CBD) in human glioma cells showed that when given along with chemotherapy, CBD may make chemotherapy more effective and increase cancer cell death without harming normal cells. Studies in mouse models of cancer showed that CBD together with delta-9-THC may make chemotherapy such as temozolomide more effective.
Many animal studies have shown that delta-9-THC and other cannabinoids stimulate appetite and can increase food intake.
Also, NORML has just updated its Emerging Applications for Cannabis and Cannabinoids booklet, a review of scientific studies, which says, "Preclinical studies demonstrate that cannabinoids and endocannabinoids can also inhibit the proliferation of other various cancer cell lines, including breast carcinoma... and uterus carcinoma," citing sources such as the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.
NORML reported in 2011 that the non-psychotropic plant cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) "completely prevents" the onset of nerve pain associated with the chemotherapy drug Paclitaxel, which is used to treat breast cancer, according to preclinical data published in the journal Anesthesia and Analgesia.
Melissa Etheridge said that she smoked medicinal marijuana to help with the side effects of chemotherapy during her treatment for breast cancer. In October 2007, actress Polly Bergen appeared on Desperate Housewives, peddled pot brownies to her daughter with cancer. But recently, a Florida jury has convicted a man who faces 35 years for growing 15 marijuana plants he says were to help his wife survive breast cancer.
Breast cancer survival rates are, thankfully, very high at early stages, so there is reason to be aware. But like so many things, we tend to go overboard with the emotional pleas and ignore the facts. NCI notes that despite promising preclinical studies (known about since the 1970s), there are still no human studies into cannabinoids and cancer. Awareness of that fact might actually lead to a cure.