Is cbd oil good for pre cancer

Cannabis Oil Not Wise for Skin Cancer

A patient recently asked if Cannabis oil might be used to cure a small skin cancer.

Never having been asked this before, a thorough review of the available literature was carried out, but sadly there have been absolutely no published clinical trials to date so it is impossible to recommend this treatment.

Cannabinoids do bind to receptors which are present in many cells and there is some evidence in highly controlled laboratory circumstances that cannabinoids may inhibit some cancers. Sadly, there is also evidence that it may actually accelerate growth in others. There have been no useful trials in living humans and animal trials are not conclusive. The link at the end of this article gives more information and is maintained by the Uk Cancer Society so may be seen as a trusted and valid reference.

The proposed mechanisms of action of cannabis oil are plausible but unfortunately that does not make it safe or effective.

A search of the internet lists many sites where people claim to have had skin cancers cured by cannabis oil. This effect may occur for one of the following reasons:

  1. It is possible that the cannabis oil actually removed the cancer (a small proportion probably do get better as a result of treatment)
  2. The act of rubbing itself can stimulate immune reactions which can deal with some skin cancers.
  3. Some skin cancers will naturally go away on their own.
  4. The skin cancer may actually have been something else entirely (misdiagnosis of these lesions is common)

It is important to note that some of the cancers being illustrated as treated with the oil are of a type that can spread and potentially kill the patient. We feel that using a totally untrialled medication like cannabis oil in such circumstances is very unwise.

Cannabis oil is of course illegal in New Zealand so as a treatment option it is not valid in any case. Hemp oil contains cannabinoids but the concentration is much lower.

The good news is that not all skin cancers need surgery – some may be suitable for treatment with cream, especially in older patients and in many cases, the treatment is fully funded.

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If you think you may have a skin cancer, please make an appointment – our doctors are very good at skin diagnoses and can give you proper treatment advice from leaving harmless things alone through creams to surgical removal if required.

We feel that it is important to point out that there is also good evidence that smoking cannabis (as opposed to a topical application) significantly increases the risk of lung and head and neck cancer, whether or not it is used in combination with tobacco. Whilst there may in the future be a place for medicinal use of cannabinoids, at present the evidence very strongly suggests that in almost all cases the side effects outweigh the benefits.

Addendum September 2016:

We have been asked to provide evidence to support the statement that cannabis smoking causes cancer. The spectrum of carcinogens in cannabis smoke is similar to that in tobacco smoke. It is the inhaling of burned leaves that results in tar deposition in the lungs. Cannabis smoke is generally retained in the lungs for longer than tobacco smoke which may also explain how cannabis causes chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In a New Zealand study in 2008, it was found that cannabis smoking was associated with similar, or higher rate of lung cancer than tobacco smoking. Cannabis has also been associated with testicular cancer. Recent evidence casts doubt on the assertion that head and neck cancers are caused by cannabis smoking though it is important to note that the development of head and neck cancer is very slow and often occurs in association with other risk-factors. Some studies have shown an association and some have not. It remains our advice that the smoking of any substance is profoundly unwise and there is no reason to believe that cannabis is any safer than tobacco.

Daily use of cannabidiol (‘CBD’) oil may be linked to lung cancer regression

It may be worth exploring further the use of cannabidiol (‘CBD’) oil as a potential lung cancer treatment, suggest doctors in BMJ Case Reports after dealing with a daily user whose lung tumour shrank without the aid of conventional treatment.

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The body’s own endocannabinoids are involved in various processes, including nerve function, emotion, energy metabolism, pain and inflammation, sleep and immune function.

Chemically similar to these endocannabinoids, cannabinoids can interact with signalling pathways in cells, including cancer cells. They have been studied for use as a primary cancer treatment, but the results have been inconsistent.

Lung cancer remains the second most common cancer in the UK. Despite treatment advances, survival rates remain low at around 15% five years after diagnosis. And average survival without treatment is around 7 months.

The report authors describe the case of a woman in her 80s, diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer. She also had mild chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), osteoarthritis, and high blood pressure, for which she was taking various drugs.

She was a smoker, getting through around a pack plus of cigarettes every week (68 packs/year).

Her tumour was 41 mm in size at diagnosis, with no evidence of local or further spread, so was suitable for conventional treatment of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. But the woman refused treatment, so was placed under ‘watch and wait’ monitoring, which included regular CT scans every 3-6 months.

These showed that the tumour was progressively shrinking, reducing in size from 41 mm in June 2018 to 10 mm by February 2021, equal to an overall 76% reduction in maximum diameter, averaging 2.4% a month, say the report authors.

When contacted in 2019 to discuss her progress, the woman revealed that she had been taking CBD oil as an alternative self-treatment for her lung cancer since August 2018, shortly after her original diagnosis.

She had done so on the advice of a relative, after witnessing her husband struggle with the side effects of radiotherapy. She said she consistently took 0.5 ml of the oil, usually three times a day, but sometimes twice.

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The supplier had advised that the main active ingredients were Δ9-­tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) at 19.5%, cannabidiol at around 20%, and tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) at around 24%.

The supplier also advised that hot food or drinks should be avoided when taking the oil as she might otherwise feel stoned. The woman said she had reduced appetite since taking the oil but had no other obvious ‘side effects’. There were no other changes to her prescribed meds, diet, or lifestyle. And she continued to smoke throughout.

This is just one case report, with only one other similar case reported, caution the authors. And it’s not clear which of the CBD oil ingredients might have been helpful.

“We are unable to confirm the full ingredients of the CBD oil that the patient was taking or to provide information on which of the ingredient(s) may be contributing to the observed tumour regression,” they point out.

And they emphasise: “Although there appears to be a relationship between the intake of CBD oil and the observed tumour regression, we are unable to conclusively confirm that the tumour regression is due to the patient taking CBD oil.”

Cannabis has a long ‘medicinal’ history in modern medicine, having been first introduced in 1842 for its analgesic, sedative, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and anticonvulsant effects. And it is widely believed that cannabinoids can help people with chronic pain, anxiety and sleep disorders; cannabinoids are also used in palliative care, the authors add.

“More research is needed to identify the actual mechanism of action, administration pathways, safe dosages, its effects on different types of cancer and any potential adverse side effects when using cannabinoids,” they conclude.

Notes for editors
Please note: out of respect for patient confidentiality we don’t have the names or contact details of the cases reported in this journal.

Funding: None declared

Link to Academy of Medical Sciences labelling system
https://press.psprings.co.uk/ AMSlabels.pdf

Externally peer reviewed? Yes
Evidence type: Single case report
Subjects: People