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April 03, 2009

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If this research is true, then that will increase the market for marijuana. The law against marijuana will no longer be valuable.

Marijuana may have health benefits - as the research mentioned in the article found - but the keyword there is "may."

On the other hand, there are plenty of studies (do a simple Google search) that showed its harmful effects - one of which also mentioned in the article.

A lot more studies have to done of the subject, in my honest opinion. For people with incurable conditions, marijuana maybe a good alternative. For others, I don't think so.

It is difficult from my position; I currently have five brain tumors that traditional procedures cannot help. So, I search for other possibilities. As far as using pot as an alternative, it makes perfect sense. It is not as toxic as the approved drugs that are in use; it is certainly much less expensive and if it helps a cancer patient cope, then I am all for it. One really has to look a the drug industry for what they really are.

The dried leaves and flowering tops of the Indian hemp plant cannabis sativa, also called "pot" and weed. It can be smoked or prepared in a tea or food.

Marijuana has two significant effects. In the non-tolerant user, marijuana can produce distortions of sensory perception, sometimes including hallucinations. Marijuana also has depressant effects and is partially cross-tolerant with sedative-hypnotic drugs such as alcohol. Hashish, or hash, is a combination of the dried resins and compressed flowers from the female plant.

-jomie-

Hmmmm, what was it they told us in high school… marijuana affects the brain? It makes perfect sense how THC can cause a tumor to shrink. If we look at this in a simplistic manor: brain cancer is just an overgrowth of dysfunctional cells, and THC affects memory by damaging and/or killing healthy brain cells. I don’t think that smoking it will achieve a high enough level in the brain. To lower the intraocular pressure in a glaucoma patient, grandma would have to be blitzed 24/7. The dose they injected into the tumor had to be larger than what is required to lower the intraocular pressure felt in the eye, and I don’t think anyone could smoke that much in a day, right? The one thing I wished they would have stated whether or not the THC they used was synthetic or natural. Does anyone know what they used?

It doesn’t surprise me that marijuana could have immense medicinal applications stretching as far as the potential shrinking of malignant brain tumors. There are numerous substances that have been outlawed by the government that could have amazing potential if further research and clinical trials were to be performed. The fact that bothers me the most is that alcohol and tobacco are by far the two drugs that contribute the most to increased strain on the healthcare system. Hundreds of billions of dollars are thrown away battling the negative consequences of the abuse of these legal drugs. Why is this allowed to continue? Well, I guess it’s just the American way; that and the billions of dollars that are paid to the government by the mega-corporations of the alcohol and tobacco industry.

Kate brings up excellent points about both the use of marijuana for medical purposes and the abuse and misuse of currently legal medications. More research clearly needs to be done to determine the benefit of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), but the use should not be discounted just because some people use it recreationally. The comments on this blog are certainly interesting, in part due to the controversy over potential marijuana legalization.

I am also curious if injecting THC near tumors in the lung, liver or kidney, where there are cannabinoid receptors as well, would shrink tumors found in these locations.

I would like to know the results in the human patients in this trial, post-biopsy of the tumors. What were their survival rates and/or was the treatment with marijuana enough to put the patients into remission from their brain cancer? Simply reducing the tumor size may not be enough if it doesn’t lead to a better overall prognosis for the patient. If the use of THC can in fact increase the life expectancy in brain cancer patients or lead to remission, this is what I would consider to be enormously promising in this area of research.

I can definitely see the idea of marijuana killing brain cancer cells running a muck and getting distorted. It will be like the broken telephone game. By the time the information gets to the teenagers, it will say that smoking marijuana prevents brain cancer.

Jack,

I read an article that stated that marijuana might cause new cell growth in the brain. A synthetic chemical similar to the active ingredient in marijuana made new cells grow in rat brains. It also reduced anxiety and depression. They used a synthetic cannabinoid called HU210 on rat brains and found that it increased the rate of nerve cell formation in the hippocampus. I can’t wait to see if this works for humans. Very interesting!

I really enjoyed reading everyone’s comments on this subject. I think marijuana and its components, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), should be treated like every other possible drug. This means research, testing, clinical trials; the whole shebang. If a plant can cure or alleviate the symptoms (especially of serious and fatal disease like cancer), then why should it be eliminated because people use it recreationally?

Prescription drug abuse is rampant, yet no one is taking oxycontin or vicodin off the market. And the idea that marijuana should remain an illegal drug because it has negative health effects makes no sense when you look at the history of tobacco and alcohol. It’s politics, plain and simple, and has much more to do with what society believes is an acceptable drug (think caffeine, those dangerous over-the-counter diet pills, the many pain killers that are abused and so on).

I strongly support medical marijuana use, so long as research can back up its effectiveness. If it can be used in multiple forms and for multiple diseases, then even better. And if THC does shrink brain tumors, and without toxic side effects, then imagine what hope this can give to patients and their doctors!

Compared to other treatments for brain tumors (radiation, surgery, chemotherapy), I think this possible treatment would be a preferable choice. This deserves much more research, and I sincerely hope people do not discount it because of marijuana’s negative image as an illegal drug.

I want to learn more about the potential of marijuana or THC helping (alleviate symptoms of the disease) or curing. cancer. Please write with any info, if possible.

I tried to find some information about the effect of THC on normal brain cells, a point brought up by J patel. I wasn’t really able to find anything useful. The only information that I found is that after THC binds to the cannabinoid receptor on the cell, it triggers a series of events that result in a change in the cells activity (gene regulation and signaling). A study from the Journal of Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology suggested that the expression of cytokine IL-6 was upregulated 48 hours after a single treatment, the GABAergic, cholinergic, and astrocytic markers were affected by treatments with THC.

I’m not sure that knowing the cancer rates in Holland would tell us if smoking marijuana causes cancer. There are a lot of other drugs in Holland too.

The study showed that non-transformed (normal) cells were not affected by THC. THC caused only the cancerous cells to undergo authophagy.

But J, what about the argument that marijuana is the first step to more significant and more dangerous use of illicit drugs? I would hate to see it legalized for that reason alone.

But back to the study. I wonder what the cancer rates are in Holland, where marijuana is legal? Still, as others blogging here pointed out, not the same at all as injecting THC near tumors. I came across a recent Italian paper (PubMed ID# 19285265) that broadly discusses the use of cannabinoids for cancer -- "we review the more recent results generating interest in the field of cannabinoids and cancer and provide novel suggestions for the development, exploration and use of cannabinoid agonists for cancer therapy, not only as palliative but also as curative drugs."

Kara, out of curiosity, how could injecting near the tumor site be potentially dangerous? I have never heard of cancer being treated this way. Is this a common route of administration for medications used in cancer?

J.Z., I think you're right about offering people these experimental options if they don't have other choices. If people who are terminally ill are faced with no other treatment options, then I don't see why they can't try whatever is out there.

I believe medical marijuana is used more for pain relief and not as a treatment for a condition, correct? I don't think studies like this would drastically change marijuana laws because the research doesn't advocate people smoking marijuana to treat brain tumors. This study injected "the main active component," tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), found in marijuana near tumor sites. Unless many studies come out linking smoking marijuana and a decrease in brain tumors, then I don't think we are going to see legalization any time soon.

Melissa, you bring up a good point, but legalizing marijuana brings with it many other issues, especially regarding how it will be regulated. I'm sure the process of deciding how much marijuana a person can carry on them and for what uses would get complicated. I’m also sure that any money freed up would be re-allocated to creating regulation procedures and training law enforcement.

I disagree with you Sarah. I think that we will see the legalization of marijuana soon. The government spends billions of tax payer’s dollars every year in order to prevent marijuana from entering our society, yet the number of distributors and users continues to rise. Of all the drugs that the government focuses on, marijuana poses the least threat. If it were to be legalized, it would free up money that could go to healthcare and research for cancer.

Maybe this is the scientific breakthrough we’ve been waiting for to explain the phenomenon of the Dead Heads. If THC can kill "immortal" tumor cells, I wonder what it does to the very fragile normal brain cell. (It would probably KILL them. For those smoking it right now – that was not intended to be an existential question). Remember, the study said that the THC was injected near the site of the tumors. I don't think anything about this study suggests that smoking marijuana is good for preventing brain tumors. That is probably why the article was quick to point out the increased risk of testicular cancer in marijuana smokers. It is encouraging that something so widely available could be so effective at treating such a serious disease. I wonder which other tumors they will study next.

I don't think this particular treatment was using marijuana per se. If you read it carefully it says "THC was INJECTED daily," not ingested or smoked. I don't think research like this will have much of an effect on marijuana laws. I am totally against the legalization of marijuana for recreational use and I don't see that happening in my lifetime, not in the United States. We don't need to give our people another vice they can legally cling to. Aren't prescription drugs and alcohol enough?

As the relative of someone who died recently from a glioblastoma brain tumor, it’s heartening to hear about this research. There are so few treatments that make a difference for stage IV tumors. Still, it takes so long for researched methods to become approved treatments! Dr. Guzman published results of some of his marijuana-related research five years ago, back in 2004: (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15313899)

I’ll never understand why people who are dying aren’t given all possible options, whether they’re FDA-approved or not. My sister-in-law and brother would have jumped at the chance to try this option.

I agree, Melissa, but I think a lot more research needs to happen before absolute statements about the effectiveness of tetrahydrocannabinol on brain cancer can be made. The one study in humans that I have seen had a very small cohort - only nine patients. And the mode of administration, direct injection into the tumor, could be problematic as well. I look forward to reading more about this use of THC as it is studied.

If this treatment proves to be effective, marijuana laws are going to drastically change over the coming months and years. Medical marijuana laws are being passed all over the country and becoming more accepted by the public. I believe this will have a monstrous effect on the “War on Drugs.” California is now trying to push a bill that allows the personal use and cultivation of Marijuana. It would be regulated and taxed just like alcohol.

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