Science has known for a long time that cannabis kills cancer cells. Why are we just finding out about this research?
Cannabis activists constantly question why more research hasn’t been conducted on the therapeutic and medicinal powers of this plant. Or, if it has, why it hasn’t been broadcast to the general public. And the latter is really the more intriguing question – the fact is, more research has been conducted than you may know. A lot more.
While research in the area of cannabis medicine is still significantly lacking, there’s knowledge out there that does prove the effectiveness of cannabis in the fight against cancer; it just hasn’t been made mainstream news in North America. Why is that?
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Reasons Cannabis and Cancer Research is Hidden
Many activists believe that one of the key reasons cannabis medicine is not encouraged for cancer treatment is because it would reduce the profits of Big Pharma. It is perhaps a cynical notion, but cannabis is cheaper and less harmful than prescription drugs, and the “whole plant” can’t be patented. Companies may patent the use of a cannabinoid extract, as is the case with Marinol, a Unimed Pharma creation made from synthetic THC. But, it may not patent a living organism – such as the cannabis plant. This means that big pharmaceutical companies could never profit. And the effectiveness of whole plant cannabis medicine further drives down profits for Pharma, who are left with subpar synthetic products.
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Another reason goes back to the era of Reefer Madness and the calculated and racist campaign to make people believe cannabis is harmful. It sticks to us today, poisoning opportunities to get well and heal. Cannabis has been scientifically proven, time and time again, to benefit numerous ailments, diseases, and disorders. It is not physically addictive, unlike opioids; and it will not make you mentally ill as has been promoted in the past.
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Because cannabis is still connected to ‘drugs’ – and in some countries it is classed alongside dangerous substances, such as heroin – there’s a stigma associated to it. This is also a barrier that hinders research by limiting access to quality cannabis and one that cannabis activists and pro-legalization politicians are still attempting to break through.
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The Virginia Study
There were two studies that surfaced to reveal curative powers of THC in cancer cases. The first was the Virginia Study, conducted in 1974 at the Medical College of Virginia. The research was originally funded in an attempt to find out how the immune system was negative affected by THC, but actually, the researchers discovered that THC decreased the growth of lung and breast cancers and stopped leukemia in lab mice.
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Despite these positive results, the DEA ended the study. Following this, then President Gerald Ford ensured that it was only pharmaceutical companies that could study the effects of cannabis. They were supposed to search for synthetic versions of THC (which we do now have).
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The Madrid Study
A study in 2000 conducted in Madrid, Spain confirmed the efficacy of THC in decelerating the growth of cancer. In fact, the finished study that was published in the Nature Cancer Review Journal found positive results about the use of THC in killing cancer cells.
The reason that cancer is so fatal in animals is that the cells multiply quickly, and angiogenesis (creation of blood vessels) allows tumors to enlarge and metastasize.
Apoptosis of a cancer cell. Image Credit: Kateryna Kon
But, the study found that cannabis encourages cancer cell suicide (apoptosis), which is normally inhibited. Researchers uncovered this by injecting THC into rats that had incurable brain tumors. The researchers found that the resulting apoptosis of cancer cells cured the condition entirely.
Is the ultimate cancer treatment being kept from us due to the Big Pharma machine driven by greed? Are we just victims of Reefer Madness and eventually mainstream media and the medical community will come around? Tell us your thoughts in the comment section.