By SUSAN CALLAHAN, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist
To the 300,000 women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, scientists are sending this message --- you can live with this. The latest reason to be optimistic comes from the field of research into uses of the cannabis plant, commonly known as marijuana.
Marijuana has long been known as a mood-altering drug which has medicinal uses as a pain reliever.
But new research goes much further. One of the two main compounds in cannabis, CBD, has been found effective in preventing the spread of breast cancer cells. Is this the long hoped-for cure?
What Is CBD and CBD Oil?
CBD stands for "cannabidiol", one of the compounds found in the cannibis plant. The other main compound in cannibis is THC, delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol. It is THC, not CBD, which alters the mind and produces a "high".
CBD has been studied for over a decade now for its health benefits, some of which are rather startling.
In 2006, scientists first discovered that CBD stops the proliferation of certain breast cancer cell lines.
Your body actually produces its own cannabinoids. For this reason, your body naturally has receptors for cannabinoids. Receptors are what they sound like, sort of a key hole waiting for the matching key. One type of receptor,CB1 , only exists in your brain. The other type of receptor, CB2, exists all over your body.
CBD apparently acts by encouraging your body to use more of its own cannabinoids. The 2006 study, led by Dr. A. Ligresti of the Instituto di Chimica Biomolecolare in Italy, discovered that CBD selectively and potently stops the growth of certain breast cancer cell lines.
Breast cancer research studies the effect of various drugs , compounds against cell lines taken from particular women. The cells lines vary by name. If a drug is effective against a particular cell line, future research attempting to duplicate the study will use the same cell line. A drug or compound found effective against one cell line may in fact work against all cell lines taken from any woman with breast cancer. But the precision that scientific study requires confines any good news about effectiveness to the particular cells of a particular woman.
With the caveat, we can say that CBD is effective in inhibiting the spread of certain breast cancer cell lines. We can also say that there is no reason for us to believe that CBD would not be effective against many other if not all other breast cancer cell lines. But time will tell.
CBD Prevents Mestastasis of Aggressive Breast Cancer Cell Lines
A year after the Italian study, a team from California Pacific Medical Research led by Dr. S. D. McAllister, demonstrated that CBD interferes with metastasis of even of aggressive breast cancer cells. To paraphrase their conclusion, CBD is the first non-toxic agent which successfully down-regulated aggressive breast cancer tumors.
How is CBD Oil Used Against Breast Cancer?
In the lab studies, CBD was simply added to the petri dishes of breast cancer cells. Where lab animals are used, CBD is injected. It is possible, though not yet proven, that CBD oil rubbed over the breasts may penetrate the skin and help inhibit breast cancer cell initiation and proliferation.
CBD also of course can enter the blood stream if you smoke cannabis. So far, there have been no studies that show that inhaling CBD halts the progression of breast cancer tumors.
For this reason, you should consult your doctor to find the best way to take CBD.