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Cannabis and Prostate Cancer: Objective Review of effectiveness

botchway July 5, 2019

By Dr. Raphael Nyarkotey Obu, RND, PhD

 

 

 

Disclaimer:This article is for informational purposes!No content in this article, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

Oil made from cannabis may be effective at shrinking prostate cancer tumors, making medical marijuana for prostate cancer a possible treatment for the disease and not just the symptoms.

The use of medical marijuana for prostate cancer is causing more men to look into this controversial treatment. One of the most common medical uses of marijuana is for cancer symptoms and the side effects of treatment such as chemotherapy, but studies on people who have used the drug are proving that marijuana may also have some anti-tumor effects. Twenty-eight states plus Washington DC have legalized the medical use of marijuana as people have fought for the right to legally access the medicinal benefits of this plant.

According to Ramos &Bianco (1912), “The plant contains many chemical compounds that have different pharmacological properties, varying in quantity and quality depending on the strain, culture, and storage conditions. In 1964, Mechoulam and colleagues found that delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) was the major psychoactive ingredient of cannabis.

Cannabinoids produce their physical and psychological effects by interacting with specific receptors on cell surfaces that have an affinity for these compounds. There are two types of receptors:

  1. Cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1) are mostly found in the brain, and also in the male and female reproductive systems. To a lesser extent, they exist in central and peripheral pain pathways (nerves) which may explain why pain relief is a benefit of cannabinoids, particularly THC.
  2. Cannabinoid receptor type 2 (CB2) are primarily found in the immune system, and may be associated with anti-inflammatory and other therapeutic effects of cannabis.

What Is Marijuana?

Marijuana comes from the leaves and flowers of the Cannabis sativa plant. There are 66 biologically active components in the cannabis plant called cannabinoids. This group of compounds can be found in both species of Cannabis sativa L. and Cannabis indica Lam. The most well-known and most powerful cannabinoid is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol).

How Does Medical Marijuna Help Prostate Cancer Patients?

Marijuana is taken by mouth or smoked. The THC in marijuana can help relieve pain and help patients sleep. It stimulates appetite and help control nausea and vomiting for patients undergoing chemotherapy or symptoms of radiotherapy. Research has found that the reduced anxiety, sedation, and euphoria from cannabinoids could help certain cancer patients and situations, but this could also be distressing for others.

Cannabinoids have been found to activate specific receptors throughout the body to produce pharmacologic effects, particularly in the central nervous system and the immune system. The highest concentration of cannabinoid 2 receptors is located on B lymphocytes and natural killer cells, which suggests they play a possible role in immunity and helping fight diseases like cancer.

In an abstract in Pubmed titled” Towards the use of cannabinoids as antitumour agents’ by   Velasco et al 2012 published in the journal Nat Rev Cancer,  it states that, “Various reports have shown that cannabinoids (the active components of marijuana and their derivatives) can reduce tumor growth and progression in animal models of cancer, in addition to their well-known palliative effects on some cancer-associated symptoms.” The studies were based on tumors in mice, but there have not been studies in humans.

Other Health Benefits of Marijuana

Medical marijuana has been used to treat conditions such as glaucoma, chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, seizure disorders (including epilepsy), HIV, AIDS, severe nausea, Crohn’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, migraines, arthritis, persistent muscle spasms, cachexia, motion sickness, and debilitating diseases that interfere with basic life functions.

 

 

 

Side Effects of Marijuana

Researchers reviewed many studies and found that smoking marijuana delivers harmful substances that could increase lung diseases and certain types of cancer. Because marijuana contains many active compounds, the drug cannot provide consistent effects unless they isolate individual components. Marijuana may cause rapid heartbeat and short-term high blood pressure.  Long-term use is associated with emphysema. Marijuana should not be used within two weeks of a scheduled surgery. Some people do not like mental and emotional side effects such as short-term memory loss, sleepiness, or the inability to concentrate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Studies on Medical Marijuana for Prostate Cancer and Other Cancers

As described above, CB1 receptors play a key role in cancer pain relief. Now, as scientific research into the two types of cannabinoid receptors has progressed, understanding how cannabinoids interact with prostate cancer cells opens the possibility of using these compounds to restrict the activity, including the growth and spread, of prostate cancer itself.

Laboratory studies by Sarfaraz S et al 2006 titled ‘Cannabinoid receptor agonist-induced apoptosis of human prostate cancer cells LNCaP proceeds through sustained activation of ERK1/2 leading to G1 cell cycle arrest published in the .Journal  BiolChemdemonstrated that when the cells are treated with a specific cannabinoids, three consequences occur:

  1. In general, the cells became less viable and more prone to apoptosis (programmed cell death), and
  2. Androgen receptor activity on the cancer cell surfaces decreased (prostate cancer appears to be “fueled” by androgens, or male hormones)
  • Two cannabinoids, THC and CBD, discourage the formation of tumor blood vessels (angiogenesis) needed by prostate cancer tumors to nourish themselves

Because Marijuana is illegal in most countries including Ghana, it is hard to get proper clinical studies on this medication. In terms of prostate cancer, results from a study at the University of Wisconsin titled “Cannabinoid Receptor as a Novel Target for the Treatment of Prostate Cancer” published in the journal Cancer Research by Sami Sarfaraz et al 2005 opined that cannabinoid receptor agonists could be developed as a treatment for prostate cancer.

An extensive study was conducted by De Petrocellis et al 2012 titled “Non-THC cannabinoids inhibit prostate carcinoma growth in vitro and in vivo: pro-apoptotic effects and underlying mechanisms published in the Br J Pharmacol. The study involved both prostate cancer cells in lab containers and prostate cancer tumor cells implanted in mice. Non-THC cannabinoids were thus tested for their biochemical effects on individual cells as well as actual tumor behavior in live animals. The overall results were encouraging, with the authors suggesting that “non-THC cannabinoids, and CBD in particular, retard proliferation and cause apoptosis of PCC [prostate cancer cells] via a combination of cannabinoid receptor-independent, cellular and molecular mechanisms.”

Another 2007 study at Harvard University published by the American Association for Cancer Research to be accessed at ScienceDaily. Science Daily, 17 April 2007. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070417193338.htm titled “Marijuana cuts lung cancer tumor growth in half, study shows.”  Revealed that marijuana has an anti-tumor effect. The study was on mice that had been injected with human lung cancer. They injected the mice with THC for three weeks. They found that the THC in marijuana cut common lung cancer tumor growth in half and inhibited the ability of the cancer to spread. There was a reduction in cancerous lesions on the lung by 60%. The group was compared to a placebo.

In recent discussions, scientists reported that THC and other cannabinoids such as CBD (cannabidiol) can kill or slow the growth of certain cancer cells growing in laboratory dishes. Some studies involving animals also suggest certain cannabinoids may slow growth and reduce spread of some forms of cancer. The problem is that these substances have not been tested in humans. At this time there is not any scientific evidence from US controlled studies in humans that cannabinoids can cure or treat cancer in people.

In 2008, a team of scientists in a combined effort between Spain, France, and Italy conducted laboratory tests that they published in The Journal Of Clinical Investigation. The researchers showed THC as a cure for brain cancer as well as had the ability to terminate other cancer cells in the body. They found that THC inhibits cell death and tumor metastasis while not affecting and maybe even protecting normal cells.There are limited studies on medical uses for the cannabis plant. Most of the research involves cannabinoids, including THC, and not the low-THC hempseed oil.

In 1997, the US Government authorized an in-depth investigation into the medical use of marijuana. The Office of National Drug Control Policy commissioned the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to study the risks and health benefits of marijuana. The IOM offered several conclusions regarding the usefulness of medical marijuana.

According to the IOM, scientific data shows that cannabinoids, THC in particular, have some potential to relieve pain, control nausea and vomiting, and stimulate appetite. The effect of cannabinoids on the immune system is not clear. The research found that the reduced anxiety, sedation, and euphoria from cannabinoids could help certain patients and situations, but this could be distressing for others.

 

Continued from last Friday’s issue

The researchers reviewed many studies and found that smoking marijuana delivers harmful substances and could increase lung diseases and certain types of cancer. Because marijuana contains many active compounds, the drug cannot provide precise effects unless they isolate individual components.

In recent discussions, scientists reported that THC and other cannabinoids such as CBD (cannabidiol) can kill or slow the growth of certain cancer cells growing in laboratory dishes. Some studies involving animals also suggest certain cannabinoids may slow growth and reduce spread of some forms of cancer. The problem is that these substances have not been tested in humans. At this time there is not any scientific evidence from US controlled studies in humans that cannabinoids can cure or treat cancer in people.

Cannabis Oil vs. Hempseed Oil

The THC in cannabis is known to relieve pain, control nausea and vomiting, and stimulate appetite in people with cancer and AIDS. There are studies that suggest that cannabis oil or hemp oil can shrink cancer tumors as well as diabetes, ulcers, arthritis, migraines, insomnia, infections, skin cancer, and many other diseases.

Hempseed oil is considered a superfood with high levels of gamma linolenic acid (GLA) and protein. The plant has a unique ratio of omega-3, omega-6, and GLA of 2:5:1. Hempseed oil is made from varieties of C. sativa that do not have a lot of THC, namely 0.3% or less. The phytosterols may offer some protection against prostate and other cancers, but hempseed oil does not contain the cannabinoids found in cannabis oil.

What Is the Legal Status of Medical Marijuana?

Marijuana is a controlled substance that is classified as a Schedule I agent (which means that it is a drug with increased potential for abuse and no known medical use).

Legal Facts about Marijuana:

  1. Several states have medical marijuana laws that allow medical use of cannabis. But in Ghana, NO!
  2. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved cannabis as a treatment for cancer or any other medical condition.
  • Cannabinoids are chemical components of cannabis. Some cannabinoids, such as oral medications dronabinol and nabilone, are prescription medications approved for the treatment of cancer-related side effects.

Laws define marijuana as, “all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L., whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of the plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plant, its seeds, or resin. It does not include the mature stalks of the plant, fiber produced from the stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of the plant, any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the mature stalks (except the resin extracted therefrom), fiber, oil, or cake, or the sterilized seed of the plant which is incapable of germination.”

With such promising research evidence that cannabinoids are destructive to prostate cancer cells, what is happening with actual prostate cancer patients? Not much, according to a prostate.net blog.

We need to start human trials ASAP so patients can get the best treatments they can. What we don’t need is a ‘medical advisor’ telling us “don’t count on marijuana to cure your cancer” because no HUMAN studies have been conducted yet, all you are doing is slowing down efforts in finding a cure for cancer. It’s time to start the research now!

Dr. Raphael Nyarkotey Obu, RND, PhD is the National President of the Alternative Medical Association of Ghana(AMAG), President of Nyarkotey College of Holistic Medicine, Tema Community 7, Post office, RNG Medicine Research lab, Tema Community 18 and Chief Editor of the Ghana Alternative Medicine Journal(GAMJ). He is a member of the Prostate Cancer Transatlantic Consortium (CaPTC Scientist), University of Florida. He is a proponent of evidence –based Integrative Medicine with research interest in Naturopathic Urology. .formulator of Men’s Formula for prostate Health & immune booster, Women’s Formula for wellness and Nyarkotey Hibiscus Tea for Cardiovascular Health & general wellbeing…enquiries..0541234556

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