Thursday, November 22, 2007

Chemical in Marijuana Fights Breast Cancer

by Alice Turner
November 20th 2007
eflux news

A chemical without psychoactive properties found in Cannabis sativa appears to have very good results in fighting the spread of cancer cells. The substance, cannabidiol (CBD), was found by scientists at the California Pacific Medical Centre Research Institute to inhibit a gene called Id-1, which has been linked to the spread of cancer cells and has been found in high levels in a number of types of cancer.

"Right now we have a limited range of options in treating aggressive forms of cancer," researcher Sean D. McAllister, a co-author, said in a statement. "Those treatments, such as chemotherapy, can be effective but they can also be extremely toxic and difficult for patients. This compound offers the hope of a non-toxic therapy that could achieve the same results without any of the painful side effects."

The researchers also pointed out that smoking marijuana will only lead to very low concentrations of CBD, insufficient for any real health benefit. If proven useful in clinical trials, the chemical would have to be extracted from the plant and concentrated, if it cannot be industrially synthesized.

"[...] what is exciting about this study is that if CBD can inhibit Id-1 in breast cancer cells, then it may also prove effective at stopping the spread of cancer cells in other forms of the disease, such as colon and brain or prostate cancer," said lead author Dr. Pierre-Yves Desprez.

The new research was published in the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics. The research is at a very early stage and further studies involving humans will be necessary to see whether CBD's beneficial effects can be replicated on patients. The current research only evaluated laboratory tests.

Currently, cancer patients usually receive chemotherapy, which has many unpleasant and dangerous side-effects such as nausea and an increased risk of infection, which can take both a physical and emotional toll. Women in the U.S. have a 1 in 8 lifetime chance of developing invasive breast cancer and a 1 in 33 chance of breast cancer causing their death, the American Cancer Society reported.

© 2007 - eFluxMedia

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