Cannabidiol (CBD), a compound in cannabis, shows promise as a treatment for a variety of cancers. Now, for the first time, researchers have found that cannabis rich in CBD can slow the progress of colon cancer in live animal models.
Using a botanical extract made from high-CBD cannabis, researchers from Italy and the UK were able to reduce pre-cancerous lesions and tumor growth in mice with colon cancer.
The results, released last month in the journal Phytomedicine, also suggest that cannabis extract can selectively target colon cancer cells, while leaving healthy cells unharmed. Both CB1 and CB2 pathways seem to facilitate its effects.
“In conclusion, we have shown that CBD BDS (botanical drug substance) exerts beneficial actions in experimental models of colon cancer and antiproliferative CB1 and CB2 mediated effects in colorectal cancer cells.”
The authors believe that the results could have “clinical relevance for the use of cannabis-based medicines in cancer patients,” since current colon cancer treatments are “very toxic” and still “fail to prevent disease progression” in some patients.
Screening strategies for colon cancer have so far failed to reduce disease incidence and mortality, they add.
In 2008, colon cancer, also known as colorectal cancer or bowel cancer, was diagnosed in over 1 million individuals and caused more than 600,000 deaths worldwide.
Researchers have also made progress in studying cannabis as a treatment for brain and breast cancers.
Besides the potential to directly treat cancer, cannabis-based medicine can be used to stimulate appetite, reduce nausea and relieve pain in patients with cancer.
The study was partially funded through grants from GW Pharmaceuticals