What is Cancer?
Cancer is a group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth and contrast with benign tumors, it has the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body. Possible signs and symptoms of a cancer includes a lump, prolonged cough, abnormal bleeding, unexplained weight loss, a change in bowel movements and etc. These symptoms may indicate cancer but they can also be caused by other disease.
Based on existing research, over 100 types of cancers can affect humans. A study from GBD(Global Burden Of Disease) shows that, in 2015, about 90.5 million people had cancer around the world and it caused about 8.8 million deaths. According to World Cancer Report 2014, the most common types of cancer in males are lung cancer, prostate cancer, stomach cancer and colorectal cancer; in females, the most common types are breast cancer,cervical cancer, colorectal cancer and lung cancer.
Reasons Causing Cancer
Unhealthy habits can lead to canceration of normal cells and some aggressive cancers can spread to other parts of body. Research find out that tobacco smoking is the cause of about 22% of cancer deaths; 10% are due to obesity, poor diet, lack of excessive and drinking of alcohol. Other factors such as certain infections, exposure to ionizing radiation and environmental pollutants can also trigger cancer.
In addition to these postnatal activities, approximately 5–10% of cancers are caused by inherited genetic defects from the parents.
The Process of Cancer Formation
There is a kind of gene called oncogenes, which can be turned on when some uncertain genetic changes happen to them. And there is another kind of gene called tumour suppression genes that signal to cells to stop growing. When genetic changes happen, the oncogenes are “turned on” when they should not be or the tumour suppression genes are “turned off” when they are not supposed to be. After these genetic changes, the normal cell will become a cancer cell and then rapidly divides into a group of cancer cells which can affect other normal cells and finally spread to the whole body.
There are usually four stages for the cancer cells divide and multiply to become a tumour. The first stage is the hyperplasia stage, normal cells divide at a heightened rate therefore increasing the total number of cells. During stage two, dysplasia stage, the cancer cells begin to form a growing ball of cells, known as the primary tumour. This primary tumour starts to push and suppress the surrounding cells. In the third stage, called invasion, the tumour grows bigger and starts to invade other normal cells around it and turned them into cancer cells. In the final process, called metastasis, the cancerous cells spread into the blood vessel or lymph node and get into other parts of the body through the blood or lymph fluid and start their dividing stage again.
Existing Therapies for Cancer
Under the continuous research on curing cancer, several effective therapies for cancer are found, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormonal therapy, targeted therapy and palliative care. According to different types, location and grade of the cancer, doctor will choose the most suitable therapy for the patient. And the patients’ health condition is also need to be considered.
The definitive diagnosis and staging of tumors needs biopsies, which makes surgery an important part of this procedure. And in localized cancer, surgery can effectively remove the entire mass and in certain cases, along with the lymph nodes in the area to eliminate cancer.
Chemotherapy is the treatment of cancer using chemotherapeutic agents, some anti-neoplastic drugs. The chemotherapy is using the principle of different cells having different degrees of sensitivity to chemotherapeutic agents. The sensitivity of hyper-proliferating cells to them is higher than that of slow-proliferating cells, and the sensitivity of immature cells to them is higher than that of mature cells. On account of the cancer cells are the highly proliferate cells in our body and contain many immature cells, while the rest of the body’s cells are mostly mature. Cancer cells are chemotherapy-sensitive tissues in the body, which means that chemotherapeutic agents have the greatest effect on these cells. The efficacy of chemotherapy depends on the type of cancer and its stage. In combination with surgery, chemotherapy has proven useful in cancer types including breast cancer, colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer and etc.
Side Effects of Chemotherapy
Although cancer cells are hypersensitive to chemotherapeutic agents, there are many other tissues in the body also have varying degrees of sensitivity to those drugs, including bone marrow cells and epithelial cells in the gastrointestinal tract.
The side effects of bone marrow are bone marrow suppression with loss of platelets, white blood cells, and red blood cells. The loss of these cells will lead to extreme hypoimmunity, which makes the patient easily be infected with pathogens.
The side effects of gastrointestinal tract are peptic ulcer and bleeding, which will cause nausea and vomiting, lost in appetite and even become malnutrition.
Chemotherapy also causes hair loss, but it can grow up again after stopping using these drugs.
The killing of such kind of normal cells of the body is shown as the side effect of chemotherapy. Patients under bad health condition won’t make through these side effects.
CBD for Cancer Treatment
—What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the over 100 kinds of cannabinoids found in cannabis plants. The most popular cannabinoids known to the public is THC(Tetrahydrocannabinol), for its psychoactive properties responsible for feeling high. In recent years, CBD starts to draw scientists’ attention and becoming the second most popular and widely talked about cannabinoid following THC. The most significant difference between CBD and THC is that there’s non-psychoactive property of using CBD and it can even counteract the “high” caused by THC, certificated by researches and experiments.
After a long-time study, scientists find that CBD can interacts with many different proteins, receptors, and other chemicals in the brain and the whole body. Human’s body actually have a endocannabinoid system which produces cannabinoids. This system helps to regulate many hysiological processes such as appetite, mood, pain perception and cognitive. Ingested CBD can also interacts with our body’s endocannabinoid system and its receptors and then affecting many of the body’s functions. Based on its medical value, CBD has been used for alleviating depression, acne, insomnia, pain, seizures and so on.
–CBD for Chemotherapy Side Effects
A number of studies found that CBD can help to alleviate the side effects such as nausea and vomiting causing by cancer chemotherapy.
There are two chemically pure drugs based on marijuana compounds that have been approved in the US for cancer treatment.
Dronabinol is a gelatin capsule containing THC treating nausea and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy as well as weight loss and poor appetite in patients with AIDS.
Nabilone, a synthetic cannabinoid that acts much like THC, can be taken by mouth to treat nausea and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy when other drugs are not working.
And there is another kind of drug under experiment in U.S. called Nabiximols, a mouth spray made up of a whole-plant extract with THC and CBD in an almost one to one mix. It’s available in Canada and parts of Europe to treat pain linked to cancer, as well as muscle spasms and pain from multiple sclerosis.
One study shows that CBD has a better effect than THC on pain relief for cancer patients. 177 patients who have not receive pain relief effect from pain medication are treated with drugs that contains THC only while the other one contains both CBD and THC. And this experiment finally showed that patients treated with extracts containing the both compounds had significantly better pain relief effect than those who only received THC extract.
–CBD for Cancer Cell Inhibition
Not only can CBD treat the side effects caused by chemotherapy, but also have the possibility to cure cancer. More recently, scientists reported that they found THC and other cannabinoids such as CBD slow the growth or even cause death in certain types of cancer cells growing in lab dishes. Some animal studies also show that cannabinoids can slow the growth and kill certain cancer cells such as breast cancer cells.
In order to develop new interventions and therapies for various cancers, Dr. Sean McAllister, a scientist of Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, has been studying cannabinoid compounds for ten years. He found that CBD, a non-psychoactive cannabinoids in cannabis plants, is an inhibitor which can effectively inhibit the proliferation and metastasis of breast cancer cell, as well as tumor growth.
In 2007 McAllister published detailed reports on how CBD kills breast cancer cells and destroys malignancies by cutting off the expression of the ID-1 gene, a protein that seems to play a major role in command of cancer cells. Dozens of invasive cancers indicate the existence of this kind of gene. Usually, the ID-1 gene is active during human embryonic development, after this period it will automatically shut down and stop working. But in breast cancer and several other types of metastatic cancer, the ID-1 gene becomes active again, which directly leads to the invasion and metastasis of malignant cells.
He point out that with its ability to eliminate the ID-1 gene, CBD is very likely to be a kind of breakthrough anticancer drug for aggressive cancers treatment. CBD offers hope of a non-toxic cancer treatment for patients, letting them free from the painful side effects of chemotherapy. In order to promote the practice of such a nice cancer treatment, he is seeking support for clinical trials of cannabinoids compounds in breast cancer patients.
McAllister’s lab is also studying on how to combine CBD with the most commonly used chemotherapy drugs. Their research shows that CBD itself is an effective anti-tumor compound, which are able to work with various anticancer drugs to enhance their effect and reduce the toxic dose required for the maximum effect.
There are also some other researchers found the anticancer functions of CBD. Researchers at St. George’s University in London have observed that CBD has a similar pattern to THC in amplifying the effectiveness of conventional anti-leukemia therapies in preclinical studies. He concluded that THC and CBD both have the ability of inducing the apoptosis of leukemia cell lines. This study result makes CBD a possible therapy for leukemia, of which the prevalence is rapidly increasing in recent years.
—The Future of CBD Using on Cancer Treatment
At the annual summer meeting of the International Association for Cannabis as Medicine in Germany, 300 scientists around the world discussed their latest findings about CBD, which point to new treatment strategies for cancer and other degenerative diseases. Italian researchers describe CBD as the most effective inducer of cell death in prostate cancer. And British researchers from Lancaster University said that CBD has the same effect on colon cancer.
According to these research findings from different researchers around the world, the therapeutic effect of CBD to different kind of cancers are gradually throw to the light. As a kind of cancer treating therapy, unlike Chemotherapy, CBD only targets on cancer cells while leaving the normal cells along and causing no harm to them. There are many cancer patients who give up chemotherapy because they can’t stand the pain caused by its side effects. If the further study on CBD for cancer treatment makes it a legal and sufficient way to treat cancer, it will be a big breakthrough on cancer treatment and a great happiness and a higher rate of survival for cancer patients.
Although CBD has been shown to help reduce symptoms associated with cancer and cancer treatment, even the anticancer properties, these are all in vitro and animal studies, so they can only suggest what might work in humans. Further more studies are needed to assess the efficacy and safety of CBD for cancer treatment. But, there is one thing for sure, the future of CBD is bright.