Although a mountain of anecdotal evidence has been generated pointing to cannabis as having the ability to “cure” cancer, there is not yet any evidentiary-based peer-reviewed studies to validate that statement. However, this is not true for the use of cannabis for cancer prevention, because there is a long list of published studies to suggest that cannabis consumption can prevent the development of cancer.
In 1974, one of the earliest studies to document the cancer prevention properties of cannabis was conducted by the Medical College of Virginia. Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the study was undertaken to find whether cannabis damages the immune system. As reported by The Washington Post, rather than finding any immune system damage, the researchers documented that the psychoactive cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) found in cannabis “slowed the growth of lung cancers, breast cancers and virus-induced leukemia in laboratory mice, and prolonged their lives by as much as 36 percent.” Unfortunately despite this evidence, the National Institutes of Health eventually suspended the Virginia study and all further research into the cancer prevention properties of cannabis.
Stifled but not ended, research continued with or without government support. Over the last three decades, multiple studies have found time and time again that the use of cannabis can prevent cancer.
In 2008, a collaborative study by five medical researchers at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health was published in Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research. The study found that cannabis halted the spread of a wide range of cancers, including brain cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, skin cancer, pancreatic cancer and lymphoma.
“At the very least, those who have a family history of cancer should consider beginning the use of cannabis for cancer prevention.”
In a 2009 study on head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), the sixth most common malignancy by incidence worldwide, seven medical researchers reported in the journal Cancer Prevention Research, that “10 to 20 years of marijuana use was associated with a significantly reduced risk of head and neck squamous cell cancer.”
Note the use of the word “significantly” by the authors. A reduction of 10 percent to 20 percent would be considered significant, but this study found a reduction of over 50 percent, which would qualify cannabis as super-significant.
It should be noted that the study also found that for people who use alcohol and tobacco, the most likely causes for developing HNSCC, those who used cannabis had a lower incidence of HNSCC compared to those who did not. This graphically demonstrates that the cannabinoids found in cannabis are such powerful anti-cancer agents that they can reduce the formation and spread of cancers in the presence of cancer causing agents such as alcohol and tobacco.
In 2015, the California Men’s Health Study funded by the National Cancer Institute, found “using tobacco only was associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer whereas cannabis use only was associated with a 45 percent reduction in bladder cancer incidence.”
The common, and usually ignored, thread of most of these studies was that the cancer prevention properties of cannabis came from the long-term consumption of cannabis requiring a decade or more of frequent use. It is appalling that in order to appease government agencies as well as secure continued funding for their research, scientists shamefully hedged their findings by cautioning that more research needs to be conducted before people can be told that they can lessen their incidence of developing cancer by ingesting cannabis long-term.
Cancer is one of the most common causes of death in the United States. Since research clearly demonstrates that ingesting cannabis can prevent the development of cancer, then the appropriate ingestion of cannabis is desirable in the same way that health care professionals advise the appropriate ingestion of calcium to prevent or at least delay the onset of osteoporosis.