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Study Finds Various Compounds in Cannabis Can Fight Leukemia, Stopping Cancer Cells in their Tracks

In some cases, by using specific dosage patterns, these agents can destroy cancer cells on their own.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com/RomboStudio


The concomitant administration of various non-psychoactive plant cannabinoids demonstrates synergistic anti-cancer activity in human leukemia cells, according to  preclinical trial data published online this week in the journal Anticancer Research.

Investigators from Saint George’s, University of London assessed the anti-cancer potential of three non-psychoactive cannabinoids ( cannabidiolcannabigerol, and cannabigevarin) and their respective acids on two types of leukaemia cell lines. Authors reported that the administration of cannabinoids in concert with one another resulted in “in additive/mildly synergistic interaction.”

They concluded:

“Our findings indicate that cannabinoids act with each other in a way such that doses for therapy could be reduced without a significant loss of activity. … [T]his study adds further support to the idea that cannabinoids can have a role in the cancer setting, not only as single agents, but also in combination with each other.”

Commenting on the study in a  press release, lead author Wai Lui said:

“These agents are able to interfere with the development of cancerous cells, stopping them in their tracks and preventing them from growing. In some cases, by using specific dosage patterns, they can destroy cancer cells on their own. Used in combination with existing treatment, we could discover some highly effective strategies for tackling cancer. Significantly, these compounds are inexpensive to produce and making better use of their unique properties could result in much more cost effective anti-cancer drugs in future.”

Plant cannabinoids as well as endogenous cannabinoids have been  consistently shown to be potent  anti-cancer inhibitors in preclinical models, halting the proliferation of  glioma cancer cellsprostate cancer cellsbreast carcinomalung carcinoma, and  lymphoma, among other cancer cell lines. NORML’s review of much of this literature appears online  here

Paul Armentano is the deputy director of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) and the co-author of Marijuana Is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink (Chelsea Green, 2009).


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