Studies on Medical Marijuana and Illness, Part 1: Cancer, Tumors, and Glaucoma

You might be feeling hesitant or dubious about the health benefits of medical marijuana.  If you, like many Americans, were raised to regard marijuana as a dangerous drug with no benefits or positive qualities, it’s completely natural to resist the idea that Cannabis could actually be good for you.  In fact, many of the patients I treat are initially skeptical about the medical merits of Cannabis.  It is perfectly okay (and even encouraged) to want to see what objective, scientific, peer-reviewed medical studies actually say about medical marijuana before you decide to make the leap yourself.  An informed patient is an empowered patient.

That’s precisely why I’ve created this four-part compilation of medical Cannabis study excerpts.  I’ve included only recent studies conducted within the past 15 years, with dates ranging from 2001 to 2014.  The data has been culled from an international body of peer-reviewed medical journals.  All studies have been sourced with links in the interest of transparency.

This portion of the compilation addresses cancer, tumorous growths, and glaucoma.  For other conditions, please see the other sections of the guide:

It is my hope that these compiled medical findings will help set your mind at ease.  If you have any questions about whether you qualify for medical Cannabis in Massachusetts, I invite you to call me at (617) 477-8886 to set up a private consultation with Inhale MD.

medicinal marijuana prescription

Does Marijuana Kill Cancer and Inhibit Tumor Growth?

There’s a common myth about marijuana that “Cannabis cures cancer.”  Unfortunately, this is a wild exaggeration.  Marijuana does not “cure cancer,” nor is Cannabis a substitute for traditional chemotherapy treatment, which remains the most reliable and effective method of treating cancerous growths.  Should you ever come across a website or video claiming that a topical cream can “dissolve” or “reverse” aggressive skin cancers like melanoma, steer clear: these claims are patently untrue and exist only to scam people into wasting their money on useless products.

That being said, many studies have demonstrated that marijuana does appear to have cancer-fighting properties with regard to certain forms of cancer.  Cannabis can also help cancer patients manage the pain and nausea caused by chemotherapy.

  • Study – “Cannabinoid Action Induces autophagy-mediated cell death through stimulation of ER stress in human glioma cells”
  • Journal Journal of Clinical Investigation
  • Publication Date –  May, 2009
  • Findings – “Here we demonstrate that delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main active component of marijuana, induces human glioma [type of brain tumor] cell death through stimulation of autophagy [cell death]… These findings describe a mechanism by which THC can promote the autophagic death of human and mouse cancer cells and provide evidence that Cannabinoid administration may be an effective therapeutic strategy for targeting human cancers.”
  • Study – “Enhancing the Activity of Cannabidiol and Other Cannabinoids In Vitro Through Modifications to Drug Combinations and Treatment Schedules”
  • Journal Anticancer Research
  • Publication Date – October, 2013
  • Findings – “We explored the activity of six Cannabinoids, used both alone and in combination in leukaemic cells. Cannabinoids were cytostatic [blocking the replication of cancer cells] and caused a simultaneous arrest at all phases of the cell cycle.”
  • Study – “Multicenter, Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Parallel-Group study of the Efficacy, Safety, and Tolerability of THC:CBD Extract and THC Extract in Patients with Intractable [Persistent] Cancer-Related Pain”
  • JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
  • Publication Date – February, 2010
  • Findings – “This study compared the efficacy of a tetrahydrocannabinol:cannabidiol (THC:CBD) extract, a nonopioid analgesic endocannabinoid system modulator, and a THC extract, with placebo, in relieving pain in [177] patients with advanced cancer… Twice as many patients taking THC:CBD showed a reduction of more than 30% from baseline pain NRS score when compared with placebo (23 [43%] vs. 12 [21%]).”

How Cannabis Treats Glaucoma (Vision Loss)

The term glaucoma describes a group of diseases which collectively degrade the optic nerve, eventually resulting in partial or total vision loss.  Glaucoma can affect anyone, but older adults are at the greatest risk.

  • Study – “Cannabinoids and Glaucoma”
  • Journal The British Journal of Ophthalmology
  • Publication Date – May, 2004
  • Findings – “Cannabinoids effectively lower the intraocular pressure (IOP) and have neuroprotective actions. Thus, they could potentially be useful in the treatment of glaucoma.”
  • Study – “Cannabinoids in the Treatment of Glaucoma”
  • Journal Pharmacology & Therapeutics
  • Publication Date – August, 2002
  • Findings – “A number of drugs are available to lower intraocular pressure (IOP), but, occasionally, they are ineffective or have intolerable side-effects for some patients and can lose efficacy with chronic administration.  The smoking of marijuana has decreased IOP in glaucoma patients.  Cannabinoid drugs, therefore, are thought to have significant potential for pharmaceutical development.”

If your quality of life is being negatively impacted by a serious medical condition, you may be a good candidate for medical Cannabis.  Call Dr. Tishler at (617) 477-8886 to start discussing the health benefits of medical marijuana in a private consultation.

MA specifically qualified conditions:

And other debilitating conditions as determined in writing by a qualifying patient’s physician, which may include:

  • Chronic back pain
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Insomnia
  • Anorexia
  • Anxiety
  • Depression