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Cannabis May Help Pancreatic Cancer Patients Live Longer

Jul 31, 2018 07:44 PM EDT
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In a new study with mice, scientists find that medicinal cannabis can actually boost the survival rates of those with pancreatic cancer.
(Photo : Pixabay)

Scientists say that a substance in cannabis can potentially yield positive results and a longer lifespan for those suffering from pancreatic cancer.

Cannabidiol or CBD is an element in cannabis that does not have psychoactive effects or the feeling of being high. Instead, it is being explored as a medicinal tool. This time, CBD shows promising results in treating pancreatic cancer, an especially aggressive type of cancer with a very low survival rate.

Cannabis Improve Survival Rates Of Cancer Patients

In the study published in the journal Oncogene, researchers treated mice with pancreatic cancer with a combination of medicinal cannabis and chemotherapy medication Gemcitabine. They discovered that these mice survived longer than those who only received the chemotherapy treatment.

"We found that mice with pancreatic cancer survived nearly three times longer if a constituent of medicinal cannabis was added to their chemotherapy treatment," lead researcher Marco Falasca, a professor from the University of London, explains in a statement to Eurekalert.

If these results could be replicated in humans, he adds, cannabidiol could be used immediately in cancer clinics, since it is already approved for use in clinics.

There are few options for pancreatic cancer treatments available and the five-year survival rate is less than 7 percent, so Falasca stresses the search for new treatments is very urgent for this specific type of cancer.

Aside from boosting the survival rate of pancreatic cancer patients, CBD also improves the quality of life of individuals going through chemotherapy by helping with the side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, among others.

New Treatment Is Welcome, But Caution Should Be Exercised

Professor David Nutt, who is a former government adviser on drugs in the United Kingdom, is happy about the development, telling The Guardian that he suspects this study is only the first in a wave of research documenting the positive effects of cannabinoids in treating cancer.

"I am pleased progress is now being made but very sad for the thousands of people who have died prematurely from treatable cancer because of the lies national governments and the World Health Organization have told about cannabinoids having no medical value, and thus restricting research by placing them in schedule 1," Nutt adds.

On the other hand, Dr. Catherine Pickworth of Cancer Research UK appreciates the new research on tackling pancreatic cancer. Still, she says, it's important to be careful in testing the waters of CBD treatments for cancer, especially since clinical trials have not yet taken place.

"We don't advise patients to use cannabis oil or any alternative therapies to treat cancer," she explains to The Guardian. "Some 'natural' remedies can interfere with medical treatment, so it's really important that patients speak to their doctor before making any decisions."

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