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Last year, a new study published in the journal Oncogene found that CBD improved chemotherapy results in mice with pancreatic cancer. Mice that were given CBD along with a common chemotherapy drug survived three times longer than mice treated with chemotherapy alone. The study suggests that CBD treatment could help human patients, too.
Finding a Cure for Pancreatic Cancer
Pancreatic cancer, in particular, has one of the lowest survival rates for cancer patients. The American Cancer Society states, for all stages of pancreatic cancer combined, the one-year relative survival rate is 20 percent, and the five-year rate is under seven percent. Finding novel ways of removing cancer cells is critical to improving the dire survival rates.
Lead Researcher Professor Marco Falasca from Queen Mary University of London said: “The life expectancy for pancreatic cancer patients has barely changed in the last 40 years because there are very few, and mostly only palliative care, treatments available. Given the five-year survival rate for people with pancreatic cancer is less than seven percent, the discovery of new treatments and therapeutic strategies is urgently needed.”
Increasing Life Expectancy
During the study, researchers analyzed cell cultures of 34 mice who were split into 4 groups. Ten were given CBD and eight were given the chemotherapy drug gemcitabine. Seven mice were given a combination of CBD and gemcitabine. Nine were given a placebo. Below are the mice group’s average survival rates after starting treatment:
- The placebo group: 19 days
- CBD only group: 25 days
- Gemcitabine only group: 28 days
- CBD and chemotherapy group: 53 days
Reducing Cancer Proliferation
Besides studying the mice’s survival rates, researchers looked at the GPR55 gene, which has been shown to affect cellular functions associated with cancer proliferation. The GPR55 gene can detect various compounds including cannabinoids using a protein inside its cell membrane. Researchers believe the high-volume of the gene in human cancer cells compared to healthy cancer cells means that it is involved in the survival rate and increase of cells.
The study’s researchers found that CBD can disable the receptors produced by the GPR55 gene. The inactive receptors are then unable to interact with other compounds necessary for the proliferation of pancreatic cancer cells. This new discovery strengthens the belief that modulating the GPR55 gene is critical to reducing pancreatic cancer death.
Decreasing Drug Resistance
Researchers at Queen Mary University in London also examined the effects of CBD on activation pathways that are believed to be associated with gemcitabine resistance. There are cases involving cell lines developing resistance to chemotherapy drugs. Researchers found that CBD decreases ERK activity, thought to be a pathway for chemotherapy resistance.
CBD Reduces Nausea and Vomiting
Nausea and vomiting are common side effects of chemotherapy medication and stress that can occur throughout chemotherapy treatment. Managing nausea and vomiting is important to help patients retain everything they eat and drink. Patients need all the vitamins and nutrients available from their diet to heal faster.
Besides taking more medication and employing relaxation methods to manage stress, patients can also use medical cannabis to reduce nausea, vomiting, and other debilitating symptoms such as anxiety and insomnia. A number of studies have found that cannabinoids, including CBD, have anti-emetic effects that can be useful for chemotherapy patients.
CBD Has Anti-Cancer Properties
The new study conducted by researchers at Queen Mary University in London follows a growing body of research suggesting that cannabinoids can reduce tumor growth in animals. Two reviews on the effects of cannabinoids and tumors found that cannabinoids could induce cell death in tumor cells without killing healthy cells and protecting them from cell death.
An in vitro study on CBD and its effects on programmed cell death in breast cancer cells found that CBD induced programmed cell death and reduce the survival of breast cancer cell lines. A couple of other studies also show the reducing effects of cannabinoids on breast cancer cells. THC has also been shown to work with CBD to reduce breast cancer cells.
CBD has consistently shown to be an effective treatment for many of the side effects associated with chemotherapy including diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Patients should consult with a doctor before starting up a CBD treatment plan. With a doctor’s prescription, patients may be able to increase their life expectancy and reduce drug resistance to pancreatic drugs.
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