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THC in cannabis may slow tumor growth

Harold Mandel's picture

There has been a great deal of controversy surrounding the legalization of marijuana initiatives across the United States. Although there appears to be some therapeutic properties to the proper use of controlled marijuana nevertheless there remains justified fears that abuse of marijuana may cause emotional problems and other health problems. On the brighter side of the debate new research shows that THC in cannabis may slow the growth of tumors.

THC may reduce tumor growth in cancer patients

Scientists have shown how the primary psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, THC, may slow tumor growth in patients suffering from cancer. New research has revealed the existence of signaling platforms which are responsible for the success of the drug in shrinking tumors reported the Journal of Biological Chemistry. These findings help to explain the complex behavior of cannabinoids and may offer new targets for therapeutic intervention in oncology.

A synthetic equivalent to THC with anti-cancer properties is possible

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Researchers have revealed how a cannabis compound may slow tumor growth reports the University of East Anglia. This research which has been published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry has revealed the existence of previously unknown signaling platforms which have a primary role in the drug’s success in shrinking tumors. The researchers are hopeful these findings will lead to the development of a synthetic equivalent which has anti-cancer properties.

Researchers working together from the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom and the Universidad Complutense de Madridin in Spain used samples of human cancer cells to induce tumors in mice. The tumors were than targeted with doses of the cannabis compound THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol). It was observed that two cell receptors in particular accounted for the drug’s ability to slow tumor growth..

Dr Peter McCormick from the University of East Anglia's school of Pharmacy says THC, which is the major active component of marijuana, has anti-cancer properties. This compound acts via a specific family of cell receptors which are called cannabinoid receptors. The findings from this study help to explain some of the well-known but still not well understood effects of THC at low and high doses on slowing the growth of tumors.

Self-medicating with marijuana is not suggested

Dr McCormick points out that there has been a lot of interest in understanding the molecular mechanisms which are behind how marijuana, and specifically THC, may influence cancer pathology. The pharmaceutical industry has been interested in creating synthetic equivalents which might have anti-cancer properties. However, Dr McCormick says that cancer sufferers should not self-medicate themselves. In this research an isolated chemical compound using the correct concentration is used.

This research offers encouraging results dealing with the potential for THC to help slow tumor growth. However, the advice of Dr McCormick not to self-medicate is important. Self-medicating with such a powerful substance as marijuana in dealing with such a potentially devastating condition could cause more problems than it resolves.