The National Institute of Health updated its summary on Cannabis and Cannabinoids (PDQ®) on March 17. The summary, available at cancer.gov, gives us yet another example of one agency of our government telling us there is no such thing as medical marijuana while another agency tells us how medically beneficial it is.
Cannabis has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years prior to its current status as an illegal substance.
Chemical components of Cannabis, called cannabinoids, activate specific receptors found throughout the body to produce pharmacologic effects, particularly in the central nervous system and the immune system.
Cannabinoids may have benefits in the treatment of cancer-related side effects.
The potential benefits of medicinal Cannabis for people living with cancer include antiemetic effects, appetite stimulation, pain relief, and improved sleep. In the practice of integrative oncology, the health care provider may recommend medicinal Cannabis not only for symptom management but also for its possible direct antitumor effect.
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Cannabinoids may cause antitumor effects by various mechanisms, including induction of cell death, inhibition of cell growth, and inhibition of tumor angiogenesis and metastasis. [9-11] Cannabinoids appear to kill tumor cells but do not affect their nontransformed counterparts and may even protect them from cell death. These compounds have been shown to induce apoptosis in glioma cells in culture and induce regression of glioma tumors in mice and rats.