Here’s What We Know About Cannabis and Cancer

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Here's What We Know About Cannabis

There are debates all over the country about the effectiveness of cannabis as a cancer treatment. These discussions center around what cannabis can do to help cancer patients, and whether or not it is more beneficial than traditional treatments. While there is still research happening and the debates rage on, there are a few things we currently know about cannabis and cancer.

Evidence of Cancer Killing Properties

In animal studies have shown that cannabis oil can kill some types of cancer cells while reducing the size of other types of cancer cells. Some extracts from marijuana plants have even been shown to reduce serious brain tumors in one animal study. These statements have been added to the official fact sheet for the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In addition to animal studies, there are numerous personal accounts and anecdotes about cannabis helping to reduce and kill cancer cells in humans around the world.

Help With Nausea and Vomiting

If you have cancer and have been through chemotherapy treatment, you know there are several uncomfortable side effects. Some of the most common side effects include nausea and vomiting. In fact, for many chemotherapy patients, it is extremely difficult to keep food down. Some studies recently have shown that smoked marijuana can help curb nausea and keep patients from vomiting. However, there is much more research to be done on this. Other studies are needed to find out whether cannabis in other forms is effective in helping with nausea and vomiting, as well.

Side Effects of Cannabis

Just like any other drug out there, cannabis has side effects to take into consideration. While medical marijuana has been legalized in 29 states, and there is even an approved cannabinoid medication—dronabinol—this doesn’t mean that it is without potential problems. Increased heart rate, decreased blood pressure, and light-headedness is common side effects of cannabis use. There is also the possibility of worsening depression, mania, and other mood disorders. Less serious side effects include sleepiness, poor coordination, and dry mouth. It’s important to weigh the side effects against the benefits of any drug.

Looking at the Future

Right now, studies are continuing to help prove whether cannabis is an excellent treatment for cancer symptoms. However, the drug is still classified as a Schedule I, meaning that under federal law in the United States marijuana cannot legally be possessed, sold, or even prescribed. As more states allow medical marijuana legalization, it is possible this may change. Scientific studies have been severely limited for the use of cannabis in treatments due to the classification of the drug.  In April 2016, the DEA allowed a clinical trial of smoked marijuana, and many hope that these studies will continue.

While many feel that cannabis is an effective treatment option for cancer. Still, others are still hesitant to use or prescribe the drug. There simply is not enough scientific evidence to prove whether marijuana is the best option for those suffering from cancer.

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