What You Need Yo Know About Medical Marijuana And Leukemia

Perhaps one day, weed will join chemo and radiation therapy as treatment options for leukemia.

leukemia
Photo by Flickr user Andrew Mason

Leukemia is cancer of the blood. It comes in several varieties that have different effects on bone marrow, red blood cells, white blood cells, and the cells that cause clotting. Its symptoms include chills, weakness, susceptibility to infection, weight loss, bruising, swollen lymph nodes, and bone pain.

As with other cancers, chemo and radiation therapy are treatment options for leukemia. So is bone marrow transplant. Perhaps one day, cannabis will also be on the menu.

Earlier this year, that day moved slightly closer, when a research article was released offering “proof-of-principle data that…dronabinol [i.e. synthetic THC] has antiproliferative [i.e. growth-slowing] as well as proapoptotic [i.e. death-dealing] efficacy” on two common forms of leukemia.

According to the new report, the THC will have no effect on the cancer if there are lower than normal numbers of cannabinoid receptors.

There was one hitch though: Researchers noted that there must be an abundance of cannabinoid receptors in order to induce apoptosis. The body does not have a set number of cannabinoid receptors in the same way it has, say, a fixed number of bones. Cells produce and reabsorb these receptors according to environmental factors. For instance, persistent elevated levels of cannabinoids—say from daily marijuana smoking—can cause cells to reabsorb CB 1 and 2 receptors. It’s the body’s way of saying, “Okay, enough already!”

According to the new report, the THC will have no effect on the cancer if there are lower than normal numbers of cannabinoid receptors.

In 2013, another study found that the cannabinoids CBD, CBG, and CBGC also inhibited the growth of blood cancer cells.

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