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Sunday 20th May 2018

Can cannabis halt breast cancer?

19th November 2007

Scientists in the United States have discovered a compound contained in the cannabis plant that is able to block certain cancer cells from spreading.


The compound, known as cannabidiol (CBD) has been shown to block breast cancer by interfering with the action of a gene called Id-1, which is thought to be behind the aggressive spread of cancer cells through the body.

The research team at the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute team said their results showed that CBD could be a non-toxic alternative to chemotherapy.

Their findings, published in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, appear to point the way to a new drug without harmful side-effects which could slow metastasis.  

CBD was found to block the aggressive growth of breast cancer cells under laboratory conditions, the research team, led by Sean McAllister, said, paving the way for possible new treatments in an area where treatment options are still extremely limited.

Previous studies have shown that CBD is also able to block aggressive brain tumours.

Cancer patient advocacy groups called for clinical trials to follow up on the use of CBD, testing its safety and efficacy could be replicated in humans.

Several cancer drugs based on plant chemicals are already used widely, such as vincristine - which is derived from a type of flower called Madagascar Periwinkle and is used to treat breast and lung cancer.

Many people experience side-effects like nausea and an increased risk of infection during chemotherapy, which can take both a physical and emotional toll.

Experts said any drug that has fewer side-effects than those currently available would be of great interest.

CBD is not a psychoactive substance like marijuana, so prescribing it would not violate any drugs laws.

 Researchers stressed that smoking cannabis would not produce high enough concentrations of CBD to have any effect on cancers in the body.



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