Cancer and Medical Marijuana

What Is Cancer?

Cancer, also known as malignant neoplasia, is a group of diseases that characterized the unregulated growth of cells.  With cancer syndromes, cells lose the capacitiy to stop unwanted growth and thereby continue to grow out of control and unregulated by natural cell regulation mechanisms.  When cells grow uncontrollably they can change into malignant tumors and invade adjacent structures and organs. Cancer cells can also spread to other areas of the body via the bloodstream and/or the lymphatic system.  Some tumors are not cancerous and do not invade or spread, these are called benign tumors.  There are more than 200 different types of cancers that are known to impact humans.  Typical symptoms of cancer include fatigue, pain, weight loss, chronic and/or bloody cough.


Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States.  Usually the treatment of cancer involves chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and sometimes surgery.  The side effects and complications of these measures are often very debilitating for cancer patients.  The benefits of medical marijuana for cancer symptoms, chemotherapeutic and radiation side effects are clear and known.   Medical marijuana has been shown to increase appetite, control pain, decrease the onset and progression of wasting, decrease chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, and help with the diagnosis of depression secondary to a medical condition.  Furthermore, marijuana has been shown to have anti-tumor properties that can further improve the quality of life for cancer patients.  


One of the active components in marijuana, cannabinoids, have been found to be neuro-protective and pain relieving.  Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the cannabinoid that has been shown to positively impact the gastrointestinal system and improve the mental health of patients with cancer related ailments.  It appears that the bioavailability of cannabis is improved with ingestion and seems to have a greater impact in regards to anti-neoplastic properties. Research studies have shown that CBDs are anti-neoplastic in that appear to prevent cancerous cells from growing at the genetic level.  As stated above, cancer cells will continue to grow out of control and unregulated.  CBDs in marijuana can negatively impact this growth by causing cancer cells to undergo a process called apoptosis or programmed cell death.  Obviously, there is much more research and studies that need to be done on the subject, but thus far marijuana has proven to very beneficial for cancer patients.  

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