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The Medical Minute: Israeli Study Finds Anti-Cancer Potential in Cannabis

April 23, 2015

Scientists at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa recently released the preliminary results of a cancer study that examined the effects of 50 varieties of cannabis with 200 different cancer cells. While it’s still far too soon to draw any conclusions, their findings are cause for optimistic curiosity.

The researchers noticed that cannabinoids have the ability to slow tumor growth and even selectively promote cancer cell death in a process known as “apoptosis.” These findings replicate those uncovered in a Spanish study from 2013, which specifically looked at THC as a potential anti-cancer agent. Now scientists in Israel wonder how different combinations of cannabis derivatives, and their dose and delivery method, affect different types of cancer cells.

“There is a large body of scientific data which indicates that cannabinoids specifically inhibit cancer cell growth and promote cancer cell death,” said Dr. David Meiri, who leads the Israeli research team. “In addition to active cannabinoids, cannabis plants also contain a multitude of other therapeutic agents, such as terpenoids and flavonoids that are usually present in small quantities, but can have beneficial therapeutic effects, especially as synergistic compounds to cannabinoids.”

Meiri’s specialized area of study is cell cytoskeletons, which are directly involved in the movement and division processes of cancerous cells. In search of compounds that influence cell structure, Meiri arrived at cannabis and was eager to fill the void of knowledge surrounding it.

Cancer patients have been prescribed and using medical marijuana for pain, nausea, and appetite loss associated with treatment, but the growing body of evidence science has to offer makes one wonder what else cannabis is capable of.