Did you know that about one in eight U.S. women will develop breast cancer at some point during their life? As a result, it was recently declared the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer among women.
Surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy are all common treatments for breast cancer. However, there is another treatment option taking the medical world by storm. As we enter Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we figured there was no better time to dive into the topic of using cannabis to treat cancer.
A recent study reported that 42 percent of 612 breast cancer patients used cannabis to relieve symptoms associated with the side effect of their treatment (including fatigue, pain, vomiting and nausea, insomnia, stress, and anxiety). Additionally, three-quarters of those 612 patients claimed that cannabis successfully alleviated their symptoms.
As more and more states legalize medical and recreational marijuana, many cancer patients are looking to incorporate cannabis use into their treatment plans. Today, we’re doing a deep dive into everything you need to know about cannabis and breast cancer.
Can Cannabis Help With Breast Cancer?
It’s incredibly important to note that cannabis use in itself is not a treatment for breast cancer. (Yes, there are preclinical studies, however, nothing has been proven yet. More on that later.) Therefore, don’t assume that cannabis use can substitute proven cancer treatments.
However, we do know that cannabis can be an excellent way to manage and alleviate cancer-related symptoms and the side effects of cancer treatments like chemotherapy. Like any form of medicine, you should always consult with your doctor before you begin using cannabis.
Because it’s is still federally illegal in the U.S., research regarding the use of cannabis to manage cancer symptoms is limited right now. With that said, some studies have shown that cannabis can be used to manage:
- Vomiting, nausea, and loss of appetite caused by chemotherapy
CBD Products and Breast Cancer
In the United States, CBD products made from hemp are legal to sell and you can purchase them everywhere from grocery stores to pharmacies and online marketplaces like CBD Livity.
However, just because CBD products are widely available does not mean they are all completely safe. Therefore, you should only use products that are third-party tested and purchased from a cannabis professional, like a medical dispensary, independent pharmacy or a certified CBD store.
Researching Cannabis for Breast Cancer Treatment
Currently, research on using cannabis as a means of treating cancer is still in its preclinical study phase. For those who don’t know, preclinical research is the stage of research that is conducted before clinical trials (AKA this research is not official yet). With that being said, results thus far are very encouraging!
Below are the findings on cannabis use as a cancer treatment, as discovered in preclinical studies:
- Increase the effectiveness of other treatments. Cannabinoids can enhance the anti-cancer effects of other chemotherapy treatments in breast cancer cells.
- Creation of prevention pathways. Scientists have discovered pathways for preventing the growth and spread of cancerous cells. While there are no clinical studies, case reports have shown the potential for cannabis to address those pathways.
- Induces cell cycle arrest. It is proposed that cannabinoids play a role in controlling decisions within the cell cycle (specifically, whether to proliferate, differentiate, or die).
- Inhibits proliferation. Cell proliferation refers to the speed at which cancer cells replicate. Some preclinical research establishes that certain cannabinoids inhibit the proliferation of breast cancer tumors with certain cell types.
- Induces apoptosis. Apoptosis is the body’s natural process of ridding itself of unneeded or abnormal cells. Preclinical research suggests that cannabinoids can aid in this process.
- Blocks angiogenesis. Tumors release chemicals that induce angiogenesis, which is the formation of new blood vessels. Some preclinical studies demonstrate that cannabinoids can block such from occurring.
- Blocks spreading of cancerous cells. Cancerous cells spread throughout the body in a process known as metastasis. However, some preclinical studies suggest that cannabinoids can inhibit metastasis in breast cancer tumors with certain cell types.
Side Effects of Medical Cannabis
As we mentioned earlier, cannabis-based research is limited and cannabis as a cancer treatment is still in preclinical trials. However, a majority of states have legalized the use of medical marijuana, which is a huge win for the cannabis community. Therefore, there are certain side effects that physicians are aware of, including the following:
- Increased heart rate
- Low blood pressure
- Dizziness and/or falling
- Tiredness or fatigue
- Paranoia or anxiety
Reported side effects of CBD products have been known to include:
- Drowsiness and fatigue
- Dry mouth
- Reduced appetite
Because studies are limited, how cannabis interacts with other medicines (including cancer treatments) is still largely unknown. For this reason, you should always consult with your primary care physician before incorporating cannabis into your cancer treatment.
Note: Side effects vary depending on the specific dose you take, the amounts/combinations of THC and CBD in the product, and the individual’s chemical composition.
Explore The Online CBD Marketplace
Can cannabis be used to treat breast cancer? The truth is that we are still a long way from discovering the answer. While preclinical trials show optimistic results, more clinical studies are necessary to tap into cannabis’ true potential. What we do know is that cannabis products can be effective in treating cancer-related symptoms and could be a great addition to treatment plans with your physician’s approval.
If you or a loved one is facing a breast cancer diagnosis and are interested in incorporating cannabis into your treatment plan, you can visit our website to learn more about our products. As a leader in the CBD industry, we boast a wide variety of topicals, oils, hemp flowers, and other CBD products that can help to ease your journey.
All of our products are third-party tested and you can find the most recent COAs for each product on their individual product page. Curious to find out what CBD can do for you? Browse our online marketplace to get started.