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May be worth further exploring cannabinoids as potential cancer treatment, say researchers 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. The body’s own endocannabinoids are […] CBD and its impacts on a protective peptide show that the cannabinoid may reduce lung inflammation and damage.

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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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

Study Evaluates CBD Effect on Lung Damage, Inflammation

Although the findings are not yet conclusive, the researchers suggested that CBD could play a role in enabling improvements in lung function, healthier oxygen levels, and repair of structural damage to the lungs. Further study in human trials is needed to determine whether CBD could benefit individuals with viral lung infections.

The study, published in the Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, demonstrated that apelin levels decrease with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS); CBD appeared to aid in normalizing apelin levels in addition to improving lung function in laboratory models of ARDS. 1

Apelin is an endogenous peptide with protective effects in pulmonary tissue, made by heart, lung, and brain cells, as well as fat tissue and blood; it may have the potential to be a novel molecular target underlying the protective effects of endocannabinoid signaling, including regulation by CBD, as well as a possible biomarker for the early diagnosis of ARDS. 2

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The study follows findings that showed the potential of CBD in treating ARDS, which was published in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research in early September. 1,2

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) primarily infects the lungs and often results in a cytokine storm, leading to diffuse alveolar damage, alveolar capillary leakage, severe hypoxemia, intense pulmonary oedema and pulmonary fibrosis, according to researchers. 2 CBD, a non-psychotropic phytocannabinoid with the ability to regulate immune responses, has shown to produce anti-viral benefits in previous studies, such as down-regulation of SARS-CoV-2 receptors in human epithelia and suppression of pro-inflammatory cytokine production. 2

Researchers utilized flow cytometry analyses of whole blood and found that CBD decreased T cells and increased neutrophils towards the normal level, as well as enhanced the expression of apelin in the blood following poly I:C treatment. 2

The researchers explained that the study does not conclusively determine whether the association is causative; however, the study introduces the idea that, “apelin may serve a powerful and sensitive role as a pharmacodynamic biomarker, providing a biological readout to monitor the efficacy of a therapeutic intervention.” 2

Study investigators explained that they have yet to determine if the association is causative, “but it is a very good indicator of the disease,” Babak Baban, DCG immunologist and associate dean for research at the Medical College of Georgia, said. 2

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