An international team has made a major breakthrough as they reveal how marijuana can be used to help treat cancer—its main ingredient, cannabis, can slow down tumor growth.
Scientists at the University of East Anglia (UEA) revealed that the drug’s main psychoactive ingredient, tetrahydrocannabino (THC), may be responsible for the reducing tumors in a mice experiment.
The researchers hoped the findings would help develop an equivalent with anti-cancer properties.
Previous studies have suggested that cannabinoids like the THC have anti-cancer properties. In 2009, researchers in Spain found that THC killed brain cancer cells in a process known as “autophagy.”
“Our findings help explain some of the well-known but still poorly understood effects of THC at low and high doses on tumor growth,” Dr. Peter McCormick of the UEA’s school of pharmacy, said.
“By identifying the receptors involved we have provided an important step towards the future development of therapeutics that can take advantage of the interactions we have discovered to reduce tumor growth,” he added.
More Research Needed
Cancer Research UK said that it couldn’t really know if THC can fight cancer cells until more research is done.