Cancer is a group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth and the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body. This is in contrast to a benign tumor, which is an overgrowth of cells that lack the ability to spread.
For a tumor to be considered malignant, it must have the six following characteristics:
- Cell growth and division without a signal to do so
- Continuous cell growth and division even when given stop signals
- Avoidance of programmed cell death (apoptosis)
- Limitless number of cell divisions (immortal cells)
- Promotion of blood vessel construction (angiogenesis)
- Invasion of other tissues (metastasis)
Interestingly, CBD may be a new weapon in the arsenal against malignant tumors. For an unknown reason, cancer cells have high levels of CB1 receptors, and stimulation of these receptors can encourage cancer cell growth. Since THC binds to CB1 receptors, there are indications that it can actually stimulate tumor growth, while CBD blocks CB1 receptor activity and can inhibit tumor growth. And even though CBD itself is a powerful antioxidant, it has been shown to be able to increase the generation of free radicals in cancer cells, which damages the cancer cells and can induce apoptosis or autophagy.
There is a lot of scientific evidence that CBD can prevent tumor cell growth and division (anti-proliferative effects), it can induce apoptosis in cancer cells that normally ignore this signal, and it inhibits cancer cell migration, adhesion, and invasion – making it a potent inhibitor of both cancer growth and spread. In fact, CBD has been shown to have anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic effects in several tumor lines as discussed in more detail below.
How Exactly Does CBD Prevent Tumor Growth and Spread?
One of the things that CBD does is to prevent angiogenesis. As a tumor grows, it requires an increased supply of oxygen and nutrients to feed its growing mass, and so it secretes chemicals that induce new blood vessels to form. It has been shown that CBD reduces angiogenesis through its actions on both the tumor cells and the endothelial cells lining the blood vessels. Without the growth of new blood vessels, the tumor essentially starves.
CBD also increases the number of natural killer cells (NK cells). NK cells are a special type of white blood cell that specializes in killing abnormal human cells, and is one of the body’s primary natural defenses against cancer. In another study with primary lung cancer cells, CBD was also shown to enhance the susceptibility of the cancer cells to another tumor-killing white blood cell called a lymphokine-activated killer cell (LAK cell). By increasing the ability of NK cells and LAK cells to do their job, CBD can help the body with its own defense against cancer cells.
What Is The Evidence For CBD’s Anti-Tumor Actions?
LUNG CANCER: The very first study looking at the effects of CBD on cancer cells was with a type of lung cancer called Lewis lung adenocarcinoma. Since then, multiple studies have examined the effectiveness of CBD against various types of lung tumor cells. In both a mouse model of lung cancer and in metastatic cells isolated from a cancer patient, CBD was able to induce apoptosis and decrease the invasiveness of the tumor cells. CBD also increased the susceptibility of lung tumor cells to LAK cells – white blood cells that destroy cancer cells.
BREAST CANCER: In human breast cancer cell lines, CBD has shown that it can inhibit growth and cell division of the cancer cells as well as induce them to undergo apoptosis. CBD can negatively affect both estrogen receptor-positive tumor cells as well as estrogen receptor-negative tumor cells, while having little effect on normal mammary cells. Other studies have shown CBD to have anti-tumor activity in highly aggressive and metastatic breast cancer (especially in a type of breast cancer known as triple-negative breast cancer). CBD appears to achieve these effects by changing the secretion of cytokines from the cancer cells, suppressing angiogenesis, and inhibiting the invasive potential of the tumor cells.
COLON CANCER: A study looking at the effect of CBD on colorectal cancer showed that CBD prevented cell growth and division of colorectal cancer cells. CBD’s powerful anti-inflammatory actions reduce intestinal inflammation, which may also prevent or delay the initiation of colorectal cancer. And in one study of a colon carcinoma model, CBD was able to reduce metastasis to the liver by blocking GPR55 receptors.
BRAIN CANCER: Since neurons don’t divide and multiply in adults, most brain cancers involve the supportive glial cells. Glioblastoma multiforme is the most aggressive primary tumor of the central nervous system and is responsible for one-third of all brain tumor diagnoses. CBD showed an anti-proliferative effect on a human glioma cell line and was also able to induce apoptosis in the cancerous cells. CBD’s actions (particularly via TRPV2 receptors) were synergistic with chemotherapy drugs and increased the apoptosis of glioma cells while not affecting the normal glial cells. Overall, CBD reduced the proliferation and invasiveness of the glioblastoma cells and caused a decrease in growth, invasion, and angiogenesis.
There is also evidence that CBD can induce apoptosis in bladder cancer cell lines. Another experiment showed that CBD reduced the survivability of cancer cells in a melanoma model. And finally, CBD inhibited cell survivability and induced apoptosis in prostate cancer cells lines (both in androgen receptor-expressing and non-androgen receptor-expressing cancer cells). In a mouse model of prostate cancer, CBD was able to reduce the size of the prostate tumors.
While a lot of the evidence comes from experiments on cancer cells in a petri dish, the results are encouraging. It appears that CBD has the potential to limit cancer cell growth, division, and spread. And while more clinical studies are needed in cancer patients, CBD shows great promise as an anti-tumor drug that is not only effective, but also safe for normal, non-cancerous cells. You can order a bottle of hemp oil containing pure CBD from Wai Natural in order to start reaping the benefits of this versatile therapeutic molecule!