Cancer is a deadly disease which is prevalent all around the world and affects people of all ages, races, and living conditions. Being one of the leading causes of mortality, 1 out of 3 individuals is likely to develop it in their lifetime, and it’s still on the rise! According to surveys and studies at The National Institute of Cancer, this disease is likely to rise by an alarming rate of 60% by 2030. This has aroused concern among the medical fraternity and common people alike.
Millions and trillions of dollars are spent every year on cancer research. There are so many organizations around the world studying cancer and trying to find a cure for this silent killer. So far, nothing of much benefit has been found and patients are still suffering around the world where chances of survival are always very low.
Amidst these efforts to find a cure, there has been one thing recently that keeps coming up whenever cancer and its cure are discussed – Cannabis – a weed that is deemed recently by some to be the answer to the dilemma surrounding cancer cure. Whether cannabis actually is the savior or it is just another sophistry is yet to be confirmed. Presently, it presents a ray of much needed hope for cancer patients who do not believe or have received no benefit from the prevalent treatment methods for the disease.
Why the Cannabis Debate is Gaining Popularity
In this age of technology and social media, the world has shrunk further and stories from one part of the world are available at the fingertips of those who wish to know them. Such are the stories of survivors of cancer which are circulating the internet and have grabbed the attention of many. The reason these stories and survivors have caught the attention and interest of many is because of the formidable nature of this disease and its extremely low survival rate among patients around the globe.
Anything that presents any hope is bound to skyrocket in popularity, so are stories of patients recovering from cancer by the use of cannabis. These aren’t stories that you hear every day and hence can’t be simply ignored. The internet is littered with accounts of cancer patients curing their own disease by using high potency cannabis extracts.But doctors advise patients not to live in the delusion of cannabis being the cause of these recoveries.
Dr. Abrams, a leading oncologist at UCSF Osher Centre for Integrative Medicine sees cannabis being helpful in relieving side effects of cancer but warns others not to fool themselves into thinking cannabis could be the cure for cancer itself. Given his high percentage of cannabis using patients he says “If cannabis definitely cured cancer, I would have expected that I would have a lot more survivors.”
Cannabis is well known for treating side effects of cancer and chemotherapy such as nausea, vomiting, pain, anxiety, insomnia and lack of appetite. But in a compendious review of cannabis literature, the researchers from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine found that the evidence for cannabis being the cure for cancer was meagre. Doctors and researchers can’t yet recommend cannabis for cancer treatment without large scale placebo controlled clinical trials.
Scientific Proof – A Ray of Hope
Some scientists are still on the optimistic side about cannabis’s potential competence. This optimism is supported by laboratory and animal studies of cannabinoids and THC successfully killing cancer cells in laboratory conditions, without causing any harm to the nearby healthy cells. While clinical trials on humans are still a far way off- given cannabis’s status as a controlled substance- the preclinical data proves that the success stories of patients aren’t just a twist of fate!
“There is a large body of scientific data which indicates that cannabinoids specifically inhibit cancer cell growth and promote cancer cell death” says lead researcher on an Israeli project, Dr. David Meiri, who is studying 50 varieties of cannabis and its effects on 200 different cancer cells. Being successful in killing breast and brain cancer cells through cannabinoid treatments, Meiri and his teammates are more than hopeful for this treatment to work on other varieties of cancer.
But experts are still reluctant to eliminate the conventional ways of treatment completely. As shown by Dr.Meiri’s research, not all cancer cells respond in the same way to cannabis. Placebo-controlled clinical trials show that each type of cancer needs to be dealt with differently. Unless there is more research on cancerous cells using cannabinoids, there is no sure answer to whether cannabis really is the long sought after cure for cancer.
Mostly patients who opt for these alternative treatments do so after the traditional treatments fail them. In a desperate attempt to save their life or that of a loved one, people opt for cannabis because it seems to be the only substance out there at present that has an ever growing fan following.
When it comes to a fatal disease such as cancer, we cannot miss any opportunity of discovering new ways to treat it. Equally, the scientific community cannot rely on cannabis until there is concrete and complete proof and surety about its efficacy. While laboratory tests and trials are still in progress, patients of this deadly disease are free to choose for themselves which way of treatment they want to pursue.
Since it is a deadly disease and there is no coming back if its spread in the body becomes rampant, patients and their loved ones should decide whether they want to wait for further proof regarding the efficacy of this new wonder drug or tread the same path as those before them by observing the cannabinoid regime on their own.