Does cannabis harbor the potential to provide symptomatic relief in breast cancer cases? According to a new study published in a journal of the American Cancer Society, quite possibly.
The topic of using cannabis for cancer relief is a controversial one, to say the least, mainly since the lack of research has left many people feeling blissfully uneducated about the incredible plant. Fortunately, founder and chief medical officer of Breastcancer.org, Marisa Weiss, has shed some light on the subject from a new standpoint. Weiss, who also takes on the role of radiation oncologist at Lankenau Medical Centre, led this wide-ranging survey of breast cancer patients.
The results confirm that, as the plant’s stigma gradually dissolves, more women with breast cancer are opening up to the possibility that the natural substance might help them. 79% of women surveyed online admitted to using the plant during treatment.
Facts Worth Knowing About Breast Cancer
Estimates published on the official website for the European Breast Cancer Coalition, A.K.A. “EUROPA DONNA,” suggest that one out of every 11 women will develop breast cancer before turning 74. This type of cancer accounts for 28% of cases, thus making it the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the WHO European Region.
Statistics show that approximately 21% of breast cancer cases in Europe transpire in women below 50, whereas 35% of patients tend to arise between 50 and 64. The outstanding incidents commonly occur in females above that age.
Some symptoms of breast cancer that women ought to look out for are:
Breast skin dimpling or irritation
New armpit/breast lump
Swelling on the part of the breast
Pain in the nipple and/or around it
Flaky and/or red nipple skin
What the Breast Cancer Researchers Discovered About Cannabis
Published in the journal Cancer, the survey of breast cancer patients discovered that 42% of people had consumed some form of cannabis to ease their symptoms, which included pain (78%), insomnia (70%), anxiety (57%), stress (51%) and nausea/vomiting (46%).
Approximately 50% of the participants were convinced that medical cannabis can treat depression — a belief system that human scientific trials have not yet backed up. Then again, the study did manage to dig up strong research supporting using the psychoactive cannabinoid T.H.C. (tetrahydrocannabinol) instead of its non-psychotropic counterpart, CBD (cannabidiol).
Most participants felt that cannabis was safe and did not feel concerned about product quality when buying from different sources. Meanwhile, just 39% of those surveyed informed their doctor about consuming the plant. A portion of those who attempted to discuss the subject with their doctor said they felt disheartened by the conversation.
People whose immune system has been weakened by cancer treatment should be extra cautious about buying their cannabis from illegal sources, say the study’s authors, since “black market” weed is renowned for containing hazardous impurities, including mold, heavy metals, mildew, and chemical residue.
They concluded that doctors and patients might require additional information about cannabis since the trichome-laden plant’s natural qualities could influence the effects of alternative substances.
Founder and C.E.O. of Breastcancer.org is Spearheading a New Trial Into CBD
Weiss didn’t stop at this study to uncover the true potential of CBD. Currently, she is busy carrying out a CBD trial at Lankenau Medical Centre called “the Coala-T-CBD Study.” The investigation seeks to determine whether or not CBD proves helpful as an aid following treatment for three types of Cancer: breast, colon, or ovarian cancer.
Participants should have already undergone chemotherapy treatment and be experiencing Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN). This dose-limiting negative effect of cancer treatment occurs when peripheral nerves become damaged by various cytotoxic drugs.”Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy is one of the most common and difficult side effects of the most widely used chemotherapies.
It reduces the quality of life and the ability of some patients to complete treatment,” said Marisa Weiss, MD. “We want to determine if CBD can help relieve CIPN in people to improve the patient experience and survival in those who’ve undergone chemotherapy.” CBD may possess suitability as an aid for anxiety, pain, and sleep, but it is “not as rigorous as we’d like it to be,” according to Weiss.
The oncologist is recognized as a leading figure in the breast cancer community-based in Philadelphia. Her looming research may free patients from perplexities about CBD. Even though this cannabinoid took a backseat behind tetrahydrocannabinol (T.H.C.) – renowned for producing feelings of euphoria or impairment – in the latest study, previous research efforts have delivered a dose of hope for patients who suffer from other problems.
For example, a 2019 study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry showed that CBD oil majorly reduced cravings and anxiety in patients who were detoxing from opioid drugs. Conversely, due to its anti-stress capabilities, the anxiolytic compound is often touted for its ability to treat anxiety, depression, and PTSD symptoms. However, it cannot be claimed a “cure” as such. CBD may even modulate memory and mood through indirect interaction with the CB2, dopamine, and serotonin receptors.
The natural anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and analgesic has also signified potential for alleviating A.L.S. symptoms, reducing unmanageable pain and diabetic complications. As if that wasn’t enough to paint CBD in a positive light, CBD’s ability to work on GPR55 and TRPV1 receptors also make it an effective anti-seizure tool and, as a neuroprotective compound, it may even shield the brain from neurological disease.
If we look at what’s happening on the other side of the pond in America, we can witness an ever-expanding scene of medical cannabis providers. As of January 2022, 36 states and the District of Columbia have legalized the plant for medicinal use. Consequently, a growing number of cancer patients worldwide have started questioning their doctors on the potential of using it to deal with unwanted side effects; of both treatment and the disease itself.
Although existing research does paint a promising picture of cannabis’ efficacy in treating breast cancer, there are some important things to consider. Cost is one thing, especially if medical cannabis is not covered by health insurance. Plus, depending on the location, the expense of registering/renewing medical cannabis certifications should be contemplated beforehand.
Patients should also pay attention to something called the “entourage effect.” This mechanism occurs when cannabis compounds – other than T.H.C. – perform synergistically to modulate the plant’s mind-altering effects.
This means that the plant’s effects might be hindered or amplified if consumed with different types of medication, so tread carefully and always seek professional guidance before trying cannabis.