People have claimed (and continue to say) CBD helped slow down or even cure various forms of cancer. Unfortunately, the only sources they cite are their own experiences.
While we can’t ignore anecdotal evidence, a lofty claim like this needs further investigation. Unfortunately, studies on CBD for cancer barely scratch the surface – until now.
But before you get too excited, the new evidence we have – while compelling – isn’t definitive. The case we’ll discuss, however, gives us a lot to think about.
Studies on CBD and Cancer
Over the years, certain limited studies on cannabis and tumor proliferation were chronically inconclusive.
For example, the National Cancer Institute offers an excellent overview of several animal and cell studies in different types of tumors, investigating things like colon cancer, lung cancer, and breast cancer, to name a few.
Unfortunately, CBD’s potential anti-tumor properties don’t always shine through. The study’s principal author, Dr. Kah Ling Liew, tells Medical News Today:
“Multiple studies so far in animal models have shown conflicting results, with some cases reducing cancer cell growth and others finding an accelerating growth in cancer cells.”
Also, keep in mind that the recent case study isn’t comparable to a clinical trial or preliminary research.
Case reports like the one featured here are akin to a friend who says, “CBD helped my co-worker get rid of his cancer.” They may have observed the process and results, but there are many unknown variables. Until we can account for those, we should treat this as another reason to increase CBD research.
According to medical oncologist Dr. Jack Jacoub: “From the strength of scientific evidence standpoint, a case report is about the weakest strength, and so you have to consider what you’re reading in that context.”
The October 2021 article published in BMJ Case Reports follows an 80 year-old British woman with lung cancer.
She also smokes one pack per week, and continues to do so. Additionally, the patient also has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and high blood pressure (possibly due to her habit), along with osteoarthritis.
Doctors first noticed a tumor on the woman’s right lung in the summer of 2018. At the time, it measured 41 mm (1.6 in). Since the tumor hadn’t spread to the lymph nodes, doctors were confident they could fix the issue with surgery, chemotherapy, or other conventional treatment.
Unknown to professionals at the time, the woman started taking 0.5 mg of CBD oil three times per day.
However, the woman refused surgery, and was also uncomfortable with radiation based on her husband’s bad experience. At that point, doctors decided to wait and watch.
By September, the growth reduced to 33 mm (1.3 in) and continued to do so for the 2.5 years of monitoring. In February 2021, the tumor was only 10 mm (0.4 in).
During that final evaluation, the patient revealed her CBD intake to the doctors. It was a balanced oil containing 20.05% CBD and 19.5% THC.
At this point, we need to look beyond the results and see if there’s anything between the lines. Were there changes that could’ve contributed to her health improving? Was CBD the reason or did it contain other minor compounds? What role did the THC play?
These are just a few questions – and problems – that arise with these case reports. But let’s remove some of these unknowns.
One compelling fact is that, despite the gravity of her disease, she didn’t change her habits at all. In addition to cigarette use, the patient didn’t alter her medications, lifestyle or diet.
Of all the key unknowns in the report, one of them is the role of THC. Assuming the oil was responsible for this woman’s incredible results, we still don’t know if the tumor regression was from CBD, THC, or both.
CBD and THC aren’t the only compounds believed to have medical applications. Terpenes and other cannabinoids can steer a product’s efficacy in any direction, including possible anti-tumor activity.
The inclusion of THC and CBD indicates the woman used a full-spectrum oil that wasn’t derived from what we consider “industrial hemp” (cannabis with less than 0.3% THC). As a result, it’s likely that the product contained a diverse profile of cannabinoids and terpenes.
The problem is that any of the other substances (or a combination of several) could’ve played a crucial role in the cancer’s outcome.
Before we go any further, let’s be clear that you should never forego conventional treatment for CBD, since doing so is – at best – an educated gamble.
Pure CBD may be safe, but there’s no telling the impact – good or bad – of additional ingredients, such as the carrier oil and solvent traces.
Despite a dedicated quality initiative by CBD vendors across the U.S.A., some companies still cut corners and sell substandard products. Such uncertainty leads to a variety of problems that, when left unchecked, can lead to serious consequences for consumers.
Although this shouldn’t be the case, the FDA caught vendors doing things like mislabeling products or faking third-party tests.
Until we have an established regulatory framework for the production, inspection, and sale of hemp-derived CBD products, it’s up to us – and our customers – to know what makes quality CBD oil.
In case you’re trying to navigate the CBD landscape, keep a lookout for the following must-haves:
- Full-spectrum or broad-spectrum CBD for additional cannabinoids and terpenes
- Third-party lab tests from a verified, reputable lab
- Organic, organically-grown, or Certified Organic hemp ensures no traces of chemical pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers.
- CO2 extraction for a solventless, clean, robust product
- Nano CBD is preferable to conventional CBD due to its superior bioavailability
To be fair, a CBD company doesn’t have to offer all of these benchmarks. For instance, nano CBD isn’t a common product. Tessera Naturals uses it because it’s more versatile and effective than the average CBD oil formula.
- There’s some preliminary evidence suggesting CBD may fight tumor growth
- Some studies observed cancer regression from CBD, while others noticed acceleration
- An 80 year-old CBD-user’s lung cancer decreased substantially over the course of 2.5 years
- Case reports aren’t unreliable, since they don’t account for a lot of unknowns
- We don’t what – if anything – CBD does for cancer, but we should be cautiously optimistic