Myriad cancer patients find symptom relief through medicinal cannabis use, though a new study further affirms that cannabis, namely CBD, could be even more impactful when it comes to lung cancer, specifically. A recent study found a reduction in the size of lung cancer tumors in mice following the administration of a CBD inhaler, with researchers specifically pointing to CBD as preventing tumor growth and targeting the mechanics that encourage tumor growth.

It’s a promising finding, as lung cancer is the deadliest of all cancers. In the U.S., it accounts for about one in five of all cancer deaths, and each year, more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast and prostate cancers combined.

Researchers nod to this fact, noting that while there have been improvements in the treatment of lung cancer, current therapeutic interventions are only partially effective, further highlighting the need for better, alternative treatments as we look ahead. 

In the study abstract, they explain that angiogenesis (the development of new blood vessels) and cancer stem cells play a “crucial role” in the initiation and propagation of cancers. 

“Tumor angiogenesis is triggered by an angiogenic switch when pro-angiogenic factors exceed anti-angiogenic components,” the authors state. “Although many anti-angiogenic agents are used in cancer treatment, there are therapeutic limitations with significant side effects.”

Recently, research has investigated the potential cannabinoids hold, specifically their possible anti-neoplastic effects. The researchers previously found that CBD could impede tumor growth in mouse models of melanoma (the most serious type of skin cancer) and glioblastoma (a type of cancer that starts as cell growth in the brain or spinal cord). Researchers also note that CBD has been suggested to possess anti-angiogenic activity.

For this study, researchers used mice that had been implanted with human lung cancer cells. Researchers said this was the first time that inhalant CBD was tested for treatment of heterotopic lung cancer and whether such treatment could reduce cancer stem cell quantity and inhibit tumor growth.

Mice were treated with inhalant CBD or placebo, and outcomes were measured based on tumor size and imaging. The results found that mice in the CBD group had a reduced tumor size when compared to the placebo group. Researchers said that this reduction was due to the anti-angiogenic properties of CBD, which prevents tumor growth by flowing the development of new blood vessels within the tumors.

CBD and Inhaler Study Results

“These results suggest, for the first time, that inhalant CBD can impede lung cancer growth by suppressing CD44 and angiogenesis.” researchers write.

Studies have long found that cancer patients using cannabis tend to need less pain medicine, though recent research has also affirmed that THC and other cannabinoids, like CBD, can slow growth or cause death in certain types of cancer cells growing in lab dishes. Research, including this study, has moved toward animal studies, similarly suggesting that certain cannabinoids can slow growth and reduce the spread of some forms of cancer. While there have been some early human clinical trials to further explore this conversation, they are overall limited.

A 2020 study, “Cannabidiol (CBD) as a Promising Anti-Cancer Drug,” explores CBD’s potential in depth, also referencing that most research regarding the effects of CBD on cancers has yet to reach the clinical trial phase. Authors note that CBD is shown to be safe in humans, without inducing potentially harmful side effects.

The study ends with a push for more clinical trials on the topic. 

“There is extensive preclinical research indicating CBD as an efficacious anti-cancer agent either alone or in conjunction with other cannabinoids, chemotherapies, and radiation therapy,” authors conclude. “Even though CBD does cause mild hepatotoxicity in mice and cats, preliminary toxicity studies suggest that there may still be a therapeutic window for cancer therapy in humans. Therefore, systematic clinical trials into CBD that determine its safety and efficacy in a variety of cancers are the next logical step in developing CBD as an oncology drug. This could be done with CBD alone or in combination with established therapeutic modalities.”

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