In a decade or two, drugs derived from cannabis may prove to be the most successful weapon humans have to wind back the spread of cancerous tumours. What then will our ancestors make of more than 70 years of prohibition of a natural, anti-cancer drug? They'll think us mad.
The main chemical in marijuana appears to aid in the destruction of brain cancer cells, offering hope for future anti-cancer therapies, researchers in Spain wrote in a study released Thursday.
The authors from the Complutense University in Madrid, working with scientists from other universities, found that the active component of marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), causes cancer cells to undergo a process called autophagy -- the breakdown that occurs when the cell essentially self-digests.
The scientists conducted their research on mice, first stimulating the growth of cancer in the lab animals, then injecting them with a daily dose of THC near the site of their tumors. The researchers also analyzed the tumors of two patients in an experimental trial looking at the effects of THC on a highly aggressive form of brain tumor, and saw findings "in line with the preclinical evidence" first observed in the laboratory mice.
February 2007 : No Major Links Found Between Heavy Cannabis Use And Lung Cancer
May 2008 : Science, Not Wishful Thinking : Cancer Cures Pain
June, 2008 : "Cannabis Halts Cancer"