Science & tech

How Cannabis Counteracted One of the Most Aggressive Brain Cancers

Published on November 19, 2014 · Last updated July 28, 2020

A promising new study coming out of St. George’s at the University of London and published in the Molecular Cancer Therapeutics scientific journals has tested the combination of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) with irradiation therapy against glioma (brain tumor) cells.

The results were astonishing. When applied separately, 14mM of THC or 19mM of CBD had a 50% shrinkage rate on the cancer cells. And when combined, it only took 7mM of a THC-CBD combo to have the same 50% reduction rate on the tumor cells.

They tried different variations and concentrations, using both extracted forms of cannabis as well as plant botanical matter, both with the same remarkable effect.

It seems that THC and CBD effectively induce cell death in cancer tumor cells, which can disrupt the tumor growth or start to kill it from the inside out. The reason this may have such an enhanced effect on brain tumor cells in particular is due to the abundance of receptors in brain cells, which may explain why brain tumors rich in these receptors have the strongest reaction to cannabinoids.

Studies such as these show major promise for brain cancer patients, who, according to statistics, have a devastatingly low long-term survival rate – only 30% for two-year survivors, while the five-year survival rate drops down to 10%.

Searching the Molecular Cancer Therapeutics journals finds a number of studies on the effects of cannabidiol on cancer cells, many with very promising results. 

Is the future of cancer research closely intertwined with cannabis? Studies such as these suggest that we’ve barely scratched the surface of potential benefits, and those benefits could save lives.


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Lisa Rough
Lisa Rough
Lisa is a former associate editor at Leafly, where she specialized in legislative cannabis policy and industry topics.
View Lisa Rough's articles
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