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cbd oil benefits for pancreatic cancer

Substance in cannabis 'could boost pancreatic cancer treatments'

A substance found in cannabis plants might boost treatments for patients with pancreatic cancer, research in mice has suggested.

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is not psychoactive, meaning it does not produce feelings of being high in those who take it. It is extracted from hemp plants and is legal in the UK, although a CBD product must be licensed before it can be advertised as having health benefits. At present, there are no licensed CBD-only medicines in the UK, but it is being used in a number of clinical trials, including for treating psychosis.

Now scientists say CBD could boost the effect of drugs used to treat pancreatic cancer – a disease with a bleak prognosis. Only about 5% of those with the condition survive for five years, and around 80% die within a year of diagnosis.

“It is very aggressive, so it is very important to find new therapies for this cancer,” said Dr Riccardo Ferro, first author of the research from Queen Mary University of London.

While the latest study was conducted in mice, the team behind the research say that if the results are replicated in humans, the treatment could result in many patients having their lives extended by a matter of years.

Writing in the journal Oncogene, Ferro and colleagues from the UK, Italy and Australia describe how they carried out experiments both on cells in dishes and on mice that had been genetically modified to develop pancreatic cancer, to show that a gene known as GPR55 is involved in the growth and multiplication of pancreatic cancer cells. This gene gives rise to proteins that sit in cell membranes and detect various substances, including certain cannabis-derived chemicals. The team found about 26% of human pancreatic cancer samples showed raised levels of such receptors, suggesting an accumulation in cancer tissues – at least for some patients.

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Among the subsequent experiments, the team took mice that had been genetically modified to develop pancreatic cancer and split them into four groups.

Ten mice were given CBD, eight were given the chemotherapy drug gemcitabine, seven were given both drugs, and nine were given a placebo.

Mice in the placebo group lasted for just under 19 days on average, while those in the CBD group lived for just over 25 days and those in the gemcitabine group for almost 28 days.

When the two drugs were combined, the effect was even more dramatic, extending the average survival to almost 53 days after starting treatment.

The team say the CBD blocks the receptors produced by the GPR55 gene, preventing them from interacting with other substances that promote the growth and multiplication of the cancer cells. What’s more, they found CBD hinders the development of resistance to gemcitabine.

However, others cautioned that as the study involved only a small number of mice, it is unclear whether the effects of CBD would also be seen in humans, and that it is unknown whether CBD might interact with other drugs taken by those with pancreatic cancer.

Dr Catherine Pickworth from Cancer Research UK said it was encouraging that researchers were looking into new ways to tackle pancreatic cancer, but that clinical trials are crucial and until there is evidence that CBD will help humans with the cancer, patients should be cautious.

“We don’t advise patients to use cannabis oil or any alternative therapies to treat cancer,” she said. “Some ‘natural’ remedies can interfere with medical treatment, so it’s really important that patients speak to their doctor before making any decisions.”

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Marijuana and Pancreatic Cancer: 5 Things to Know

Cancer patients have reported finding pain relief and appetite stimulation from the use of medical marijuana, also known as cannabis. In fact, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s (PanCAN) Patient Services, which provides free, in-depth and personalized resources and information about pancreatic cancer, has received many questions about the use and effects of medical marijuana. For example, how is marijuana derived and how can it be used by cancer patients?

Marijuana is a plant that contains substances called cannabinoids. The cannabinoids found in marijuana plants may help treat the symptoms and side effects caused by cancer and cancer treatments. In addition to the naturally occurring cannabinoids found in marijuana plants, cannabinoid drugs have been developed in laboratories for use in helping to treat side effects and symptoms of cancer and cancer treatments.

The use of marijuana and cannabinoid drugs for medicinal purposes, such as controlling pain and stimulating appetite in cancer patients, have been and continue to be studied in the lab and in clinics. Consequently, conflicting information has been reported in clinical studies using cannabinoids as pain relievers or appetite stimulants for cancer patients.

Some studies have reported that patients regained appetite and sense of taste, while others reported cannabinoids are no more helpful than other prescription appetite stimulant medications. Likewise, some studies about pain relief report promising results, while others have shown cannabinoids are no more helpful than prescription medications for controlling pain.

This map shows U.S. states and territories where marijuana is legal for medical purposes.
(Image courtesy of the National Cancer Institute.)

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It is important for patients to speak with their doctor to determine if marijuana would be helpful in their fight against pancreatic cancer. According to Anne-Marie Duliege, MD, PanCAN’s Chief Medical Officer, “Since there has not been sufficient data generated yet to produce consistent clinical results about the benefits of medical marijuana for patients, we encourage patients to discuss problems such as pain and appetite stimulation with their doctor to determine the right medications to help control such issues.”

Patient Services often receives questions about how medical marijuana can be used when fighting pancreatic cancer. Here are five things to know:

Cannabis

Medicinal cannabis, or medical marijuana, has been used by cancer patients to help with symptoms ranging from nausea and loss of appetite, to pain and sleeplessness, to depression and anxiety. Patients have reported that cannabis and it’s non-psychoactive competent, cannabidiol or CBD provide relief for a number of symptoms and treatment side effects.

Various states have some form of medical cannabis program available for those who qualify. Find out more about medical marijuana in your state. There are several ways to administer medical marijuana and CBD, from consuming in food or capsules, topical ointments, and sublingual sprays or oils.

If you wish to add medicinal cannabis to your treatment, it should be through a medical professional. We encourage you to discuss your treatment plan and goals with your medical team to find the best outcome for you. Together you and your health care team can develop a treatment plan that meets your needs.