The National Cancer Institute acknowledged in a recent report that marijuana has impressive tumor fighting properties and can help reduce rates of various types of cancers. In a recent update to their website, the NIC published research which has shown that cannabis can have an impact on breast, liver, colon, lung and bladder cancer, fighting off the malignant cells while leaving healthy cells undisturbed.
Among numerous studies on the tumor-busting effects of cannabis, the NIC notes that it has been shown to reduce colon inflammation, and possibly reduce risk of and treat colon cancer in mice. Other research has demonstrated that various cannabis extracts can damage or kill breast and liver cancer cells in the lab.
What’s more, another study showed that a marijuana extract increased the effect of chemotherapy in killing cancer cells in a lab, without harming non-cancerous cells. Then, a study involving 84,000 men in California found that those who used cannabis had 45 percent lower rates of bladder cancer compared to those that did not.
The NIC update also included information on how cannabis can help treat the symptoms of cancer and other illnesses by providing pain relief and stimulating patients’ appetites. Specifically, the page notes that THC can help stop weight loss in people who suffer from HIV/AIDS compared to a placebo, and that cannabis combined with morphine for pain relief is more effective than using morphine alone. Furthermore, another study showed that whole-plant cannabis extract was effective in relieving pain in cancer patients even when opioids were not effective.
The site also lists studies that have shown that cannabis can help improve mood, relieve anxiety and improve sleep quality. Furthermore, it notes that smoking marijuana is not linked to loss of lung function, is not linked to the development of any types of cancer, and has only very mild addictive properties compared to other medicines like opioids.
Despite its acknowledgment of the many benefits of marijuana and the slim risk catalog, the NIC still claims, “there is not enough evidence to recommend that patients inhale or ingest cannabis as a treatment for cancer-related symptoms or side effects of cancer therapy,” suggesting that more research needs to be performed. In fact, there still have been no published clinical trials on humans testing the use of cannabis as a specific treatment for cancer. However, research on the health benefits of marijuana on humans has been stymied for decades because of federal prohibitions.
So far, 23 states plus Washington, D.C. have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes, but the federal government has been reluctant to acknowledge any benefits derived from the plant. The NCI, however, is a branch of the federal government’s National Institute of Health, which lends even more incoherence to the Drug Enforcement Agency’s classification of cannabis as a Schedule I drug with no medical value.
Earlier this year, the National Institute for Drug Abuse also posted information about the demonstrated ability of marijuana to slow down the growth of and even kill tumor cells. The dissemination of honest medical news about marijuana on federal websites could be a sign that the government is considering loosening its prohibitions sometime soon — a shift that would allow more people to legally access this natural and potentially life-saving medicine.