Medical cannabis has long been prescribed for treating the side effects of chemotherapy, such as nausea, appetite loss, and fatigue. But some news reports take this a step further, claiming that marijuana can cure cancer. When determining whether curing cancer with cannabis is a realistic possibility for the majority of cancer patients, we must examine real results from legitimate medical trials to separate fact from fiction.
Can Cannabis Cure Cancer?
Headlines have been touting the use of cannabis to treat cancer. But again, we have to dig a little deeper to get some perspective on what we know, and what we don’t yet know, about the role marijuana products can play in treating cancer.
From the Daily Caller, a headline from 2017 reads, “Weed Is a Cancer Cell Destroyer, Study Finds.” Strong words.
What they’re referring to is a British study that added purified cannabis extracts—not just ordinary weed—to traditional chemotherapy—and it did seem to help kill cancer cells.
But the study was done in a lab, on cancer cells in a dish, not in patients. There’s a big jump between pre-clinical studies to actual proof that this will help people.
A somewhat-better, more-accurate headline about the same study from a local TV station read, “Cannabis, Combined with Chemotherapy, Effectively Destroys Cancer Cells.” Still, neither headline and neither story mentioned that the study wasn’t done on actual living people.
Frequently, media stories also tell about individuals who take marijuana and experience amazing results, like this one from The Independent: “Teenager Dying of Cancer Recovers after Mother Gives Him Marijuana.” According to the story, the teen had undergone several rounds of chemo and was not expected to survive.
But he improved markedly after his parents started giving him a cannabis extract they made at home in a pressure cooker, from an online recipe. Stories like this are powerful and memorable, and you have to cheer this young man’s recovery.
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