Can Medical Cannabis Cure Breast Cancer?
Many women are asking the pertinent question, “Can medical cannabis cure breast cancer?” as a desperate way to heal themselves naturally. According to the HER2 Support Group, breast cancer is not a single disease – it is an umbrella term that is used for many different diseases. HER2-positive breast cancer is an aggressive type that forms when there is an over-production of the HER2 gene.
This breast cancer means that the woman has tested positive for a protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) which encourages the development of cancer cells.
HER2-positive breast cancer does not only grow rapidly, but it is often associated with an unfortunate prognosis and high recurrence rates. Though successful treatments have been designed to target the HER2 gene, research shows that they do not result in a positive response from everyone.
We are aware that cannabis has shown promise in treating a variety of cancers. A Japanese study found cannabinoids to constrain tumour growth. Accordingly, breast cancer research has also turned to medical cannabis in search of answers because so many women want to know whether medical cannabis can cure breast cancer.
Spanish Researchers Treated Breast Cancer with Medical Cannabis
In 2010, a group of Spanish researchers published a study in the journal Molecular Cancer with the intention to establish whether cannabinoids could constitute a new therapeutic tool in the fight against HER2-positive breast cancer. They analyzed the anti-tumour potential of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and a synthetic cannabinoid with similar effects to CBD (cannabidiol).
In order to analyse every cannabinoid’s potential, the researchers investigated the effects on mice with a similar form of cancer – the Mouse Mammary Tumour Virus. In addition to mouse trials, the researchers also examined the effects of cannabis on 87 human breast tumours.
According to the study’s results, THC and CBD had several anti-cancer benefits in mice. Both cannabinoids investigated were found to constrain cancer growth, reduce the number of tumours and reduce the number and the severity of metastases (secondary tumours in the lungs).
While studying human cancer tissue, the researchers found that cannabinoids may constrain cell proliferation and induce programmed cell death, or aptosis. As stated by the study, cannabinoids also seem to “impair tumour angiogenesis” which allows tumours to receive more nutrients by letting blood vessels grow.
One of the most relevant findings, according to the study, is that 91% of HER2-positive tumours actively express CB2 receptors. We are aware that both THC and CBD interact with CB2 receptors which might explain their interaction with breast cancer.
Additional research will be necessary before we can determine whether medical cannabis is an effective form of breast cancer treatment, but the results from this Spanish study are intriguing. Cannabis is currently used to counter nausea and other chemotherapy side effects, but evidence of its anti-cancer potential is becoming more evident. If scientifically proven to treat HER2-positive breast cancer, medical cannabis may replace chemotherapy as an effective follow-up to surgery.
We are not yet ready to answer the question, “Can medical cannabis cure breast cancer?” but the signs are there. More research is needed before we can actively state that medical cannabis can replace chemotherapy as an effective follow-up to surgery.