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WATFORD, United Kingdom — A surprising case study of a patient in the United Kingdom may be providing key evidence that cannabidiol (CBD) can be an alternative treatment for lung cancer. Researchers discovered that an older woman saw her cancerous tumor dramatically shrink after taking the marijuana ingredient daily for several years.
The study, in the journal BMJ Case Reports, followed the progress of a patient in her 80s who had a 41-millimeter tumor in her lung. Doctors diagnosed the woman with non-small cell lung cancer in June 2018 however, the patient did not want to undergo traditional cancer treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy, or radiotherapy.
Instead, the patient told researchers she opted to take CBD oil as an alternative self-treatment starting in August 2018. From then until February 2021, study authors say the woman’s tumor shrank from 41 mm to 10 mm — an average drop of 2.4 percent a month and an overall reduction of 76 percent.
New treatment for a deadly disease?
Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death in the United States, accounting for a quarter of all fatalities, according to the American Cancer Society. Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common form of this disease, making up 84 percent of lung cancer cases.
Researchers from Watford General Hospital and Basildon University Hospital say the body’s natural endocannabinoids play a role in several processes. These include nerve function, emotion, energy metabolism, pain, inflammation, sleep, and immune health. In a similar way, scientists believe cannabinoids interact with the signaling pathways of cells — even cancer cells.
The patient in the study reported taking 0.5 ml of the oil two to three times a day. Moreover, the supplier notes that the woman’s CBD oil contained 19.5 percent of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — the main psychoactive compound in marijuana. It also contained 20 percent cannabidiol and 24 percent tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) — the most common non-psychoactive ingredient in the drug.
Does lifestyle play a role in shrinking tumors?
The study notes that this individual also had several other health conditions leading her to take several other medications, including drugs for mild chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), osteoarthritis, and high blood pressure. On top of that, the patient was a smoker, smoking around one pack a week, who continued to smoke while taking the CBD oil treatments.
The supplier also advised this patient to not consume warm food or drinks while taking the CBD oil to avoid the classic “high” feeling people get from marijuana. Overall, the patients told researchers the only noticeable side-effect from taking cannabidiol was a reduced appetite.
While the results of the woman’s self-treatment for cancer are dramatic, researchers note that the study only follows one person and one case of lung cancer. It’s also unclear which ingredients in the CBD oil may be responsible for the significant reduction in the patient’s tumor.
“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 tumor regression,” the researchers write in a media release.
“Although there appears to be a relationship between the intake of CBD oil and the observed tumor regression, we are unable to conclusively confirm that the tumor regression is due to the patient taking CBD oil.”
Despite the uncertainty, the study adds more evidence to a possible connection between marijuana, its related products, and cancer treatment. Previous studies have found that CBD can serve as an effective pain reliever and symptom reducer for patients dealing with various forms of the disease.