Study: Marijuana prevents spread of cancer

Cannabidiol, a non-toxic marijuana-like compound, can stop metastasis in aggressive forms of the disease

Published September 23, 2012 2:00PM (EDT)

  (Reuters/Cliff DesPeaux)
(Reuters/Cliff DesPeaux)

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

Two scientists at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco have found that cannabidiol (CBD), a non-toxic marijuana compound that delivers many of weed's benefits without the high, might stop metastasis in aggressive cancer, "potentially altering the fatality of the disease forever."


The pair, molecular biologist Pierre Desprez and researcher Sean McAllister, mixed CBD and cells with high levels of ID-1, the gene that spreads cancer, in a petri dish. What happened next was a bit of a miracle: ID-1 cells stopped spreading and returned to normal.

"What we found was that his cannabidiol could essentially 'turn off' the ID-1," Desprez told the Huffington Post.

The duo have been studying CBD's effects on cancer for years, and they first published a paper about the finding in 2007. The results just keep getting better.

"We started by researching breast cancer," Desprez told HuffPo. "But now we've found that cannabidiol works with many kinds of aggressive cancers -- brain, prostate -- any kind in which these high levels of ID-1 are present."

The finding has already gone through laboratory and animal testing, and is awaiting approval for the real test, a clinical trial in humans. Desprez hopes they can move forward with their research immediately. "We've found no toxicity in the animals we've tested, and cannabidiol is already used in humans for a variety of other ailments," he told the Huffington Post.

To make it more potent, the pair has been synthesizing CBD in a lab instead of extracting it from the mairjuana plant. It is a move that may also help them to avoid red tape from the federal government, which still insists marijuana has no medicinal value.

"It's a common practice," explained Desprez. "But hopefully it will also keep us clear of any obstacles while seeking approval."

CBD has been used to help treat seizures, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's.

Smoking marijuana, however, may not deliver enough CBD for it to be effective, the researchers said.

By Kristen Gwynne

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Alternet Biology Cancer Drugs Health Marijuana Science The Huffington Post