Two cannabis components can have a significant effect on the size of cancerous tumors in the brain, especially when combined with radiotherapy, according to new research. The study says the growths can virtually “disappear.”
The research was carried out by specialists at St Georges, University of London and published in the Molecular Cancer Therapeutics journal.
There are some 85 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, but the two that had a demonstrably positive effect were tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
Combining their use alongside radiotherapy shows a drastic effect, the study claims.
Brain cancer killed around 5,200 people in Britain in 2012.
Tests involving THC and CBD carried out on mice showed that any cancerous growth slowed right down, the scientists said.
“The results are extremely exciting. The tumors were treated in a variety of ways, either with no treatment, the cannabinoids alone, and irradiation alone or with both the cannabinoids and irradiation at the same time,” Dr. Wai Liu, senior research fellow and lead researcher on the project, told Science Daily.
“The benefits of the cannabis plant elements were known before but the drastic reduction of brain cancers if used with irradiation is something new and may well prove promising for patients who are in gravely serious situations with such cancers in the future.”
Possibilities of human trials are being considered by the team responsible for the research.
However, the impact of THC has not been found to be consistently positive. Grey matter could be much more vulnerable than white matter to its effects, according to recent research by neuroscientists at the University of Texas.
“The results suggest increases in connectivity, both structural and functional that may be compensating for gray matter losses. Eventually, however, the structural connectivity or ‘wiring’ of the brain starts degrading with prolonged marijuana use,” Sina Aslan, one of the study’s authors, stated.