We all know that there’s a lot of talk about cannabis curing cancer, but what’s the scientific viewpoint? The Examiner interviewed and oncologist to find out if CBD oil results in cancer treatment were positive, promising or purely a matter of hearsay.
Dr Donald Adams is a medical cannabis advocate with over thirty years as an oncologist behind him. He says he recommends cannabis to his patients – but not as a cure.
Symptoms relieved and side effects reduced
Dr. Adams says he recommends cannabis to cancer patients because it helps to relieve the side-effects of cancer treatments as well as making the symptoms of the cancer itself less severe, but he’s not convinced that it’s a cure. He says many of his patients use cannabis, and if it was genuinely a panacea, he would expect to see a higher survival rate among those who do use it.
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But what about all the research people use to back up this idea?
We often see people referring to research which ‘proved’ that cannabis can cure cancer, but Dr. Adams says that although the results of some research are interesting, we have to remember that studies so far have dealt with cancer cells grown in test tubes or studies in animals. He refers to the National Cancer Institute’s 1974 finding, which showed that cannabidiol (CBD) could supress lung cancer cells in test tubes as well as in mice. Further research in this direction has not taken place, so we can’t say whether a CBD oil treatment would work as a cancer cure or not.
Spanish and Italian researchers have investigated the ways in which cannabinoids could lead to cancer cell death, but again, no human trials have as yet been carried out.
The only human study done so far did not produce “impressive” results according to Adams. This study was done on brain cancer patients. In the test tube, cannabinoids killed cancerous cells but not healthy ones, so doctors used a catheter to drip cannabinoids onto brain cancer tumors in living patients with recurring brain cancer.
Does the doctor therefore believe cannabis doesn’t cure cancer?
Dr Adams says the jury isn’t even out yet on that point, because there simply isn’t enough evidence available to consider. It’s possible that cannabis might work as a treatment for certain cancers he says, but getting trials on humans done means that ethical considerations have to be taken into account.
If there’s already a drug that generally works fairly well, conducting trials to compare it with cannabis, which doctors don’t know works, would be unethical. Placebo vs cannabis trials would never be possible, because it would be wrong to give dangerously ill patients a placebo.
Does cannabis prevent cancer?
Dr. Adams says that there’s no such thing as a complete cancer preventative but acknowledges that risk can be reduced by using cannabis since it is an antioxidant as well as an anti-inflammatory. He also believes that it’s possible for cancer cells to be killed off before they develop into full blown tumors, referring to test tube research that showed that this might be possible. Although he’s dubious about cannabis cancer cure, he says he’s quite excited at the idea that it can reduce the chance of cancer developing.
The Doctor’s Advice
Dr. Adams says that cancer patients should try cannabis by all means, but warns that discontinuation of regular treatments is a dangerous step. He says that most of the stories we hear about miracle cancer cures from cannabis come from people who still kept going with their regular medication. As a result, it can’t be said for sure that cannabis actually worked as a cancer cure. CBD oil results in cancer treatment just aren’t clear enough to gauge whether it helps kill cancer, but he adds that it certainly can’t cause harm or make cancer worse.