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Biotech Science

Cannabis Compound Said To "Halt Cancer" 383

Posted by kdawson
from the afraid-of-what-we-represent dept.
h.ross.perot informs us of research out of the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute suggesting that a compound found in cannabis may stop breast cancer from metastasizing. Cannabidiol, or CBD, could develop into a non-toxic alternative to chemotherapy some years down the road, if animal and human trials bear out its effectiveness. The article notes that smoking cannabis will not deliver significant quantities of CBD.
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Cannabis Compound Said To "Halt Cancer"

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  • by mrjb (547783) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @08:00AM (#21419039)
    Maybe this [smoothhigh.co.uk] will do the trick then.
  • The article notes that smoking cannabis will not deliver significant quantities of CBD
    There you've ruined my ingenious punchline.
    • by mwvdlee (775178)
      All it says is that you need to use more and stronger canabis.
  • I volunteer (Score:5, Funny)

    by pklinken (773410) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @08:02AM (#21419063)
    Human trials!

    Too bad I don't have breasts ...
    • Well, if you mean you are a man, then you do have breasts. And furthermore, even you could have breast cancer, albeit less likely than women. I thik there was an episode of "Oz" where a mobster got breast cancer, and tried to keep it secret.
      • Not only can men GET breast cancer, but it tends to have a much higher mortality rate in males.

        Because most men don't know that they could get breast cancer, it tends to not be noticed until it is in an advanced state, and has likely already spread beyond the breast tissue.
      • Re:I volunteer (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Plutonite (999141) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @09:31AM (#21419937)

        I thik there was an episode of "Oz" where a mobster got breast cancer, and tried to keep it secret.
        That's friggin hilarious. Even more hilarious is the fact that you're using the mobster who got breast cancer in Oz as some sort of reference.

        I *heart* slashdot.
    • by jimicus (737525)
      Actually, you do. Unless you're some sort of alien.

      There is a small amount of breast tissue found in men, and cancer does sometimes develop there. It's nowhere near as common as in women, though.

      (IANAD but my g/f is a therapeutic radiographer)
    • Re:I volunteer (Score:5, Informative)

      by sm62704 (957197) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @09:37AM (#21420019) Journal
      Google has failed me this morning. I remember reading in New Scientist (whose anti-drug propaganda I ranted about a couple of years ago) [mcgrew.info] that they did a study of baby boomers; the generation that started smoking ganja in their youth and are now geezers. They were trying to prove, as all these government studies from all the world's governments do, that pot is bad for you. The object of the study was to look at cancer rates in potheads vs non-potheads. They were certain that reefer causes cancer because there are carcinogens in it.

      What they found instead was that (IIRC) potsmokers who did not smoke tobacco had a 10% lower incidence of all cancers than nonsmokers. More striking, however, was the difference between cigarette smokers who also smoked hemp and buttheads who only smoked butts. The cancer incidence of those who smoked both marijuana and tobacco was half the number of those who only smoked cigarettes.

      So your study is done, the results are that cannibis prevents cancer.

      As I said, a google search for "marijuana boomer study" yielded only one hit (he he he said), to a site I'd never heard of. So I searched New Scientist and found some other interesting tidbits:
      Cannabis compound reduces skin allergies in mice [newscientist.com]
      Cannabis compound slows lung cancer in mice [newscientist.com]
      Cannabis extract shrinks brain tumours [newscientist.com]
      Cannabis can help MS sufferers [newscientist.com]
      Cannabis can protect the brain from damage from stroke [newscientist.com]

      So we have a substance that is non-addictive (habit forming but not addictive), non-lethal, fights cancer, helps MS sufferers, is the best anti-nausea agent known, stimulates appetite, yet it is illegal. So why is it illegal?

      Because it makes you lazy and forgetful, and what's worse for our corporate overlords, makes you think. You can forget about any substance that makes you think ever being legalized; thinking is the VERY last thing your government (wherever you may live) wants you to to do.

      Yes, I'm a geezer. No, I wasn't in the study. Yes, I've smoked dope. [kuro5hin.org]

      -mcgrew
      • Re:I volunteer (Score:5, Interesting)

        by twistedsymphony (956982) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @09:49AM (#21420201) Homepage

        So why is it illegal?
        The official reason why it was banned in the first place: [African American]s' satanic music, jazz, and swing, result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others [wikipedia.org].

        ...Something tells me that excuse wouldn't hold up today.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          The history channel has has on a good show about drugs. Their reason, while similar to the one from wikipedia, had to do with anti-mexicanism at the time. The mexicans were here working in the US (much like now) and smoking lots of pot. Well they blamed any bad mexican behavior on the pot and then eventually outlawed it. BTW, if you ever see the history of drugs on the history channel it's a great show. IIRC, cocaine was originally outlawed because of "crazed blacks" and your description.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by zmooc (33175)
          Official reasons that sound like crap usually are crap. And crap is generally used to hide economic motives. I, for one, think it's really coincidental that marijuana was prohibited in the entire US in exactly the same year that the decorticator for hemp was invented - a device that sped up the processing of hemp a tenfold, thereby making it far superior to cotton for textile and far superior to woodpulp for paper.

          http://www.jackherer.com/popmech.html [jackherer.com]
      • Re:I volunteer (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Cajun Hell (725246) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @12:15PM (#21422499) Homepage Journal

        So why is it illegal?

        People will quote the special interests against it, but there's a bigger reason that dominates them all, and makes racism and the chemical company lobby fade into the background. That reason is: attitude about government.

        Americans still overwhelmingly think the purpose of government is to implement whatever good ideas come up, and solve our problems. That's why this particular article is political: people are talking about the presence of useful compounds inside the plant. People talk about how harmful it is, how harmful it isn't, etc, as though the utility of the plant, or its side-effects, actually matter.

        As long as you engage in discussion of the merits (or lack of merits) of the plant, in the context of whether or not it should be illegal, you lose. There will always be arguments against anything, whether its heroin or hydrogen hydroxide, that the material is harmful to the user. There's nothing on this earth that is provably safe.

        The debate should always be about who owns people, not the decisions that the owner makes. Is it the government's decision on what people should ingest, or the people's decision? People, stop citing the plant's advantages, and start talking about the real political issues. Don't ask "why is this illegal?" Ask, "How is does local gardening fall under the intent of the 'interstate commerce' clause?" Ask, "Why do voters in Texas have a say in Vermont citizens' health?"

  • But... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @08:03AM (#21419071)
    Have you ever stopped breast cancer from metastasizing...on weed???
  • Woo! Woo! Get on to the bandwagon fast. Kabul is going to be the Cancer Cure Capital of the World!!!
  • Chemotherapy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @08:11AM (#21419153) Homepage Journal
    Um, using a cannabis-derived compound isn't an alternative to chemotherapy, it is chemotherapy [wikipedia.org], which literally means "treatment with chemicals." Just because a bunch of people have screwed up the meaning of the word like they did with 'hacker' vs. 'cracker', that doesn't make it right.

    • Re:Chemotherapy (Score:5, Informative)

      by Lloyd_Bryant (73136) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @08:27AM (#21419279)

      Um, using a cannabis-derived compound isn't an alternative to chemotherapy, it is chemotherapy, which literally means "treatment with chemicals." Just because a bunch of people have screwed up the meaning of the word like they did with 'hacker' vs. 'cracker', that doesn't make it right.
      Um, perhaps you should actually read the Wiki article, specifically the part about modern day usage meaning treatments using cytotoxic substances.

      By your definition, ANY drug-based treatment is "chemotherapy", while the general usage (including usage by the medical profession) refers to this specific class of drug treatments.

      The hacker/cracker screwup was a result of outsiders misinterpreting geek jargon. The meaning change of chemotherapy originated from the professionals *within* the medical field. Two entirely different issues.
      • by jsight (8987)

        By your definition, ANY drug-based treatment is "chemotherapy", while the general usage (including usage by the medical profession) refers to this specific class of drug treatments.


        And that definition would be correct. The term "chemotherapy" was to differentiate it from other forms of treatment (radiation, surgery), not to specify the specific drug used.

        This would be a new drug for chemotherapy.
      • by afabbro (33948)
        Um, perhaps you should actually read the Wiki article, specifically the part about modern day usage meaning treatments using cytotoxic substances.

        Um...why do you stutter when you type?

        Free Clue: chemotherapy is used to refer to many medical treatments for issues other than cancer. Yes, taking an aspirin a day to prevent heart attacks IS chemotherapy.

        Free Clue Number Two: Wikipedia is written by amateurs.

    • True, except that to most people Chemotherapy means radiation therapy coupled with the drugs that make your hair fall out to combat the harmful effects of the radiation, etc.
  • by sherriw (794536) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @08:13AM (#21419161)
    My mom had breast cancer several years ago. The treatments are just horrible, but I'm thankful she's still with us. It seems however that once a year we hear about some potential breakthrough or another. Well, with the truckloads of donations going to 'breast cancer research', I'm getting a little sick of hearing about 'potential' breakthroughs. I want something we can start using right now. It's hard to be patient when people you care about are sick or dying. I hope some of these possibilities pan out soon.
    • by RandoX (828285)
      Treatments for cancer can be terrible. I'm glad that your mom made it through and is still able to be with you.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Firethorn (177587)
      The problem with what you hear is that 99% of these potentials fail some point along the way. Either they're too toxic in the human body, or not effective enough against cancers for their toxicity, or just not competitive with existing treatments(no niche to exploit).

      I heard once...

      It's very easy to kill cancer cultures in a dish. Matter of fact, much of the time the trick is keeping them alive.

      It's an entirely different matter to do it in the body.

      Makes sense to me. A little splash of bleach and that pe

      • by Fred_A (10934)

        Makes sense to me. A little splash of bleach and that petri dish won't have any live cells in it. Yet bleach is NOT suitable for internal use.

        Chemotherapy works in pretty much the same way. You pump what is basically a fairly nasty cell toxic into the body and hope it kills the cancerous cells faster than it kills the rest of the body (I did simplify a bit).
        Sometimes you have to try several combinations to find the one that targets your particular strain best. You still kill quite a few regular cells though.

        It's a bit of a flamethrower vs. fly approach but, well, flamethrowers do work against fly s dont'ya know ?

        Well, sometimes they do. Didn't

        • by Firethorn (177587)
          Chemotherapy works in pretty much the same way. You pump what is basically a fairly nasty cell toxic into the body and hope it kills the cancerous cells faster than it kills the rest of the body (I did simplify a bit).

          I remember a few years ago that the FDA changed their chemotherapy drug approval requirements. It used to be that all a drug had to do was show a certain statistical probability that it'd reduce tumor sizes.

          The rule adjustment was that it would now have to either show better tumor reduction f
    • Estimating Risk (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PIPBoy3000 (619296) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @08:58AM (#21419547)
      Basically everyone I've known who has died, has died of cancer. It drives me crazy that we're spending hundreds of billions of dollars to avenge the deaths of 3,000 people, while under four billion is spent on fighting cancer, which kills half a million people each year. It reminds me again how terrible people are at estimating risk [schneier.com].

      References:
      NCI budget [cancer.gov]
      Cost of Iraq war [msn.com]
      cancer deaths [forbes.com]
      • we could spend that money on education too, or healthcare for the middle class

        we don't. we think it's valuable to our security to get rid of saddam hussein and democratize iraq. is that right? is it wrong? certainly, it could be the stupidest thing the usa has ever done

        but therefore, you need to defeat the money spent on that operation based on that rationale alone, within the confines of the merits or lack thereof of that operation by itself

        but comparing the money spent on that to money to be spent on some
        • by BobMcD (601576)

          we could spend that money on ... healthcare for the middle class

          Doesn't it boggle one's mind to think that we're in such a weird state that the middle class can't even make it without help from the government??

          If you need government hand-outs to pay for healthcare, why are you middle class at all? If you're on welfare, are you not poor?

          Personally, I think that we need to figure out how to cut the cost of healthcare, not inflate it by throwing supply money at it...

          • frankly, it's an embarassment that the usa doesn't have this. all arguments against universal healthcare are not just morally bankrupt, they are logically bankrupt. if you accept the notion that everyone in a rich country should have good healthcare, socialized medicine falls logically into place

            even from just a callow economic point of view, in terms of the cost of preventive care (what you get with socialized medicine) versus the costs of emergency care, it is cheaper

            what is the system we have now? a more
            • While I agree that a new system would be a great idea, the transition would be the death of us. All of the current systems being proposed are merely shifting the costs to the taxpayers. There's no real reform being considered at all. Nothing is getting at WHY it costs so much, as no one seems to care. Either that or the special interests have the key players all firmly in-pocket.

              If you think our current government can manage a healthcare system, I invite you to study the mess that Medicare has become, a
      • by tjstork (137384)
        Basically everyone I've known who has died, has died of cancer. It drives me crazy that we're spending hundreds of billions of dollars to avenge the deaths of 3,000 people, while under four billion is spent on fighting cancer

        Except, your facts are wrong. We spend about 200 billion a year on cancer. You don't include private enterprise. There is a reason health care is so expensive and cancer is among the top reasons why. The average cost per cancer treatment is over a million dollars per patient. Multi
        • I think the OP's point was that we only spend 4 billion annually on cancer research, rather than cancer treatment.

          --G
    • It would be nice if prostate cancer got half as much press. Men have a considerably shorter lifespan then women and prostate cancer kills many men.
      • What an insightful comment made by someone with a relatively fitting screen name. And remember kids, check your prostate weekly!
    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by dosius (230542)
      The problem is, I think, that the pharmaceutical industry stands to lose a ton if someone finds a good cure for cancer and is trying to hold it back for purely financial reasons.

      Well, fuck 'em. Some things are more important than money. Human life is priceless.

      -uso. :@
    • I'm glad your mom is ok now, and I wish her the best for the future.

      However, 8-10 years to develop a drug AFTER the pre-clinical work that identifies a compound you think might do some good. Hearing about these breakthroughs is cruel because the media talks about what's happening in vitro or in animal testing. The odds of any one compound making it all the way to approval are very low. Maybe it has unacceptable side effects (and yes I read that they say the compound is non-toxic. We'll see), maybe the drug
    • > I'm getting a little sick of hearing about 'potential' breakthroughs. I want something we can start using right now.

      attention all researchers: you have been warned. from here on out it's all or nothing. no scientific method. no peer review. no journals. no conferences. no progress. we demand immediate and absolute salvation.

      > It's hard to be patient when people you care about are sick or dying.

      and we all know that if something is hard then you simply shouldn't have to do it, right?
  • THC or Tetrahydrocannabinol would certainly have cannabidiol as part of its compound. Does it break down into cannabinol after time? THC is certainly the compound that gets you high.

    They say that smoking it would not yield much cannabinol. What of long time marijuana users, surely they would have build up cannabinol in their bodies.
    • by benna (614220)
      It is interesting to note that, contrary to what one would expect, cannabis smoking has not been shown to be correlated with lung cancer. Some have hypothesized that the carcinogenic effects of the smoke are countered by various chemicals contained in the plant. Perhaps cannobidiol is one of them. If nothing else, I would appreciate it if my descendants can be spared the "smoking a joint is like smoking a whole pack of cigarettes" BS that I was forced to listen to in "health" class.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by GeckoX (259575)
        Problem is, almost no studies are done on this particular subject...good luck getting government funding to do so.

        Common sense states that your average pot smoker smokes a lot less pot than your average cigarette smoker smokes cigarettes, so there's a starting point. Further, a LOT of chemicals are used in the manufacture of your typical cigarette.

        There are a ton of starting points for reasonable research to be done, but alas, it won't be any time soon. Without doing research unfortunately, we simply can no
    • by db32 (862117)
      Smoking it destroys something like 75-80% of the THC due to the high heat. The buildup also has to do with fat. Gets soaked up in fat cells.
  • CBD (Score:5, Informative)

    by spazmolytic666 (549909) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @08:18AM (#21419195) Journal
    The article notes that smoking cannabis will not deliver significant quantities of CBD.

    Actually, you can get CBD from smoking cannabis, but most cannabis is optimized for the best high (most abount of THC).

    CBD is one of the two lesser psychoactive chemicals (CBN is the other) that THC breaks down to in the late life cycle of the cannabis plant. Most growers harvest when the plant is "ripe", when it has the most THC. If you wait a week or two after the peek harvest time, the THC will break down and have a higher percentage of CBD and CBN and a lesser percentage of THC.
  • Brain tumors, too (Score:5, Informative)

    by Scrameustache (459504) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @08:23AM (#21419237) Homepage Journal
    http://norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=6947 [norml.org]

    THC selectively decreases the proliferation of malignant cells and induces cell death in human GBM cell lines. Healthy cells in the study were unaffected by THC administration.

    Separate preclinical studies indicate that cannabinoids and endocannabinoids can stave off tumor progression and trigger cell death in other cancer cell lines, including breast carcinoma, prostate carcinoma, colectoral carcinoma, skin carcinoma, and pancreatic adenocarcinoma.
  • ohru. (Score:4, Funny)

    by drix (4602) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @08:24AM (#21419247) Homepage

    The article notes that smoking cannabis will not deliver significant quantities of CBD.
    Sounds like a challenge to me!

    --Cancer free since 1998.
    • by sm62704 (957197)
      The article notes that smoking cannabis will not deliver significant quantities of CBD.
      Sounds like a challenge to me!


      I see the article's authors never met my friends.

      -mcgrew [kuro5hin.org]
  • And stop breast cancer at the same time?
  • The article notes that smoking cannabis will not deliver significant quantities of CBD.

    Yeah, right. You probably said this just to keep the FEDS off your back. I mean after all, we cannot have research show that smoking pot is even in the remotest good for you. The status quo multi million dollar drug enforcement empire need to be kept in place.
  • by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @08:42AM (#21419387) Homepage
    ... but it does get the cancer to mellow out and be cool and stop causing so many hassles.
  • by spectrokid (660550) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @08:42AM (#21419393) Homepage
    Cuban medicine has shown for years that mother nature provides all kinds of wonderful molecules for free. They even have a bio-version of Viagra. Problem is these things are not patentable. So a large medicinal company has to spend tons of money on trials and FDA approval, and the very next day half a dozen competitors can throw a "me too" version on the market without incurring those costs. Sorry for you if you have cancer, but don't hold your breath 'cause it ain't gonna happen.
    • look at taxol and the yew tree for breast cancer treatment

      what the pharma companies do is substitute a methyl group for a hydrogen somewhere, or mix the chemical with some other chemical, patent that, and call it vastly superior, even if it isn't

      just look at celebrex: it's just an NSAID. nothing that aspirin can't handle. but they modified the chemical slightly, patent that, the effects are slightly different, but the slight effects are relabelled massive and brilliant improvements in function, and you have
    • by GeckoX (259575)
      Then how come I can buy vitamin C, calcium etc etc just about anywhere?

      Yes, the big pharmaceutical companies are scum sucking patent feeders. But that's not the only way to go.
      • Try buying vitamin C from Roche, it still costs twice as much as the no-name brands. Yet their patent expired ages ago.
  • This study is quite obviously flawed. Cannabis, otherwise known as marijuana, is bad. It's just bad! Taking it is wrong! People who take marijuana are bad people.

    Marijuana cannot be used to stop cancer. Stopping cancer is good, and marijuana is bad; therefore marijuana cannot logically be used to stop cancer. It's a basic fact!

    Why are you promoting the use of this evil drug, when you know that it can only be used for bad not for good. Do you want children to smoke marijuana, and destroy their lives? Do you want them to commit murder and rape so they can feed their evil habits? Do you want them to think that bad things are good? That's just wrong!

    We need to defend our children and society from the scourge of drugs. Breast cancer is bad, but that does not mean we should use evil to fight it. Instead, I propose setting up a breast cancer awareness group where people can discuss how breast cancer has affected their lives. That's a real solution to this problem.

    We can hold meetings at the local bar, so people have a few drinks and a smoke afterwards.
    • The preceding post is brought to you courtesy of the American Neuro-Linguistic Programming Association of America.
  • "The article notes that smoking cannabis will not deliver significant quantities of CBD."

    What if you were to smoke hemp?

    CBD is believed to be the compound in pot responsible for the sedative effect, as opposed to THC, which is responsible for the "mind expanding" psychedelic effects. High levels of CBD are common in strains grown for fiber or seed, which are not particularly fun to smoke. At best, you just get tired. At worst, you cough up a lung....:)
  • by colourmyeyes (1028804) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @09:11AM (#21419685)
    Ah, I know my day is off to a good start when I the first tags that I see are "potheads" and "boobies."

    Smashing.
  • drugsarebad (Score:4, Funny)

    by bigsexyjoe (581721) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @09:17AM (#21419747)
    It would be better that we all died of cancer than ingested something derived from cannabis.
  • if it was deliverable via smoking. Not to mention it would inspire students to enter medical research.

    Kid on a field trip: "Haha, look at that rat smoking a dubie!"
    Tour guide: "Thats medical research son, thats what we get paid to do."
    Kid: "I know what I want to be when I grow up!"
  • is gynocomastia. man boobs

    so this seems like a problem that takes care of itself:

    1. smoke pot
    2. grow boobs
    3. get boob cancer
    4. smoke more pot
    5. cure boob cancer

    if this logic seems a little hazy to you, well, you're right. it's called stoner logic

    now if you will excuse me

    (puff puff)
  • by BytePusher (209961) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @09:32AM (#21419945) Homepage

    Just a thought, but I wonder if it could be possible that humans are genetically disposed to loving cannabis? It has been a commonly used plant for a long, long time. The seeds have been used as food and seem to have the perfect balance of essential fats. Now it seems we've discovered it suppresses certain forms of common cancer. Certainly, there are people who abuse themselves with it, but maybe we want them to. In my experience, the people who overuse pot are the same people who have trouble restraining many of their impulses. One of my room mates seemed to actually became a human when he was high... otherwise he was intolerable. By taking these people's pot away, we don't make them better people, just angrier.

    Another thing to note is that, while cannabis is illegal now, if we are genetically disposed to love it, cannabis will win the legal battle eventually no matter what the logic for it's legalization is. People legalize things they love and suppress the things they hate ignoring all logic in the process. You can't fight your nature. :)

    • Consider a stretch of our evolutionary history where our diet contains the same amount of a particular vitamin, as we generate internally. Organisms who stop manufacturing the vitamin expend less energy as a result, and have a slight evolutionary advantage (and thus the population loses the ability to manufacture this vitamin). Then, our diet changes and we suffer (it is very easy for a mutation to disable an enzyme; almost impossible for the reverse to happen). This is considered a reasonably sound scienti
  • by kcdoodle (754976) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @09:57AM (#21420291)
    I used to think that it would be legal by the time I was thirty.

    I high school (circa 1977), at least 70% of the kids smoked regularly or occasionally.
    25% didn't care if anyone smoked it and only 5% were against it. (These numbers are all personal observation so take with a grain of salt.) The point is -- I was a geek, I occasionally did imbibe, I didn't care if anyone else smoked all day long.

    Fast forward a couple decades. Those same pot-heads are now republicans and swear that they never, ever smoked pot. In fact they believe it is immoral to do so. And anyone who does should be thrown in jail. Amazing how raising kids changes your perspective.

    I believe that alcohol is far worse than pot to your body and to society as a whole. BTW, I quit smoking pot years ago, but that doesn't mean you should.

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell

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