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  1. sparkling_star
    How Cannabis Suppresses Immune Functions: Cannabis Compounds Found to Trigger Unique Immune Cells Which Promote Cancer Growth

    ScienceDaily (Nov. 24, 2010) — An international team of immunologists studying the effects of cannabis have discovered how smoking marijuana can trigger a suppression of the body's immune functions. The research, published in the European Journal of Immunology, reveals why cannabis users are more susceptible to certain types of cancers and infections.

    The team, led by Dr Prakash Nagarkatti from the University of South Carolina, focused their research on cannabinoids, a group of compounds found inside the cannabis plant, including THC (delta-9 tetahydrocannabinol) which is already used for medical purposes such as pain relief.

    "Cannabis is one of the most widely used drugs of abuse worldwide and it is already believed to suppress immune functions making the user more susceptible to infections and some types of cancer," said Dr Nagarkatti. "We believe the key to this suppression is a unique type of immune cell, which has only recently been identified by immunologists, called myeloid-derived suppressor cells, MDSCs."

    While most immune cells fight against infections and cancers to protect the host, MDSCs actively suppress the immune system. The presence of these cells is known to increase in cancer patients and it is believed that MDSCs may suppress the immune system against cancer therapy, actually promoting cancer growth.

    Dr Nagarkatti's team demonstrated that cannabinoids can trigger a massive number of MDSCs through activation of cannabinoid receptors. This research reveals, for the first time, that marijuana cannabinoids may suppress the immune system by activating these unique cells.

    "These results raise interesting questions on whether increased susceptibility to certain types of cancers or infections caused from smoking marijuana results from induction of MDSCs," said Nagarkatti. "MDSCs seem to be unique and important cells that may be triggered by inappropriate production of certain growth factors by cancer cells or other chemical agents such as cannabinoids, which lead to a suppression of the immune system's response."
    In a related study, also published in the European journal of Immunology, Dr Christian Vosshenrich from the Institut Pasteur in Paris, reveals that when cancer cells grow they produce a molecule called interleukin-1 β (IL-1β), which also triggers MDSCs. This study identifies how MDSCs produced during cancer growth also weaken the ability of immune cells to kill cancer cells.

    "Marijuana cannabinoids present us with a double edged sword," concluded Dr Nagarkatti. "On one hand, due to their immunosuppressive nature, they can cause increased susceptibility to cancer and infections. However, further research of these compounds could provide opportunities to treat a large number of clinical disorders where suppressing the immune response is actually beneficial."

    Venkatesh L. Hegde, Mitzi Nagarkatti and Prakash S. Nagarkatti. Cannabinoid receptor activation leads to massive mobilization of myeloid-derived suppressor cells with potent immunosuppressive properties. European Journal of Immunology, 2010; 40 (12): 3358-3371

    ScienceDaily (Nov. 26, 2010)

    P.S. This is my first news post, so please let me know if I did anything wrong; I tried to read all the rules, but I don't know if I missed anything!


  1. sparkling_star
    I decided to reply to my article instead of posting it in the story (so as not to confuse my opinion and the story). My question is, doesn't this research go against so much of the other research on cannabis and its ability to help treat cancer? I was wonder what other people had to say about this study in comparison to others.
  2. C.D.rose
    Interesting read. I guess the first point is that the research focused on "a group of compounds", among them THC, but by far not the whole array of cannabinoids that are typically contained in cannabis. Thus, the effects of actual cannabis on individuals, as well as on cancer patients in particular, is far more complex than this. Secondly, the role of medical marijuana in cancer patients is, as far as I know, not actually fighting cancer, but fighting symptoms that go along with cancer, such as severe pain, loss of appetite, etc. There is scientific evidence that cannabis, or certain cannabinoids, actually are able to stop growth of cancer, and even to destroy cancerous cells, but this evidence is very limited, and much more research is needed.

    I guess it would be naive to assume that, more research into cannabis and possible therapeutic benefits, will only dispell certain myths about it, and at the same time reveal its unique properties in certain condition. It will always be a "mixed plate", but I think that that's nonetheless good enough, because even mixed results mean that there are positive aspects to it. And besides that, the author of the study himself points out that the immunosuppressive properties of cannabis can actually have therapeutic indications of their own, so this news story is not simply the "bad news" that it appears to be at first.
  3. Terrapinzflyer
  4. C.D.rose
    Would searching for it yourself not have taken the same time as asking for someone else to do it? ;) No offense, just wondering..

    I can confirm though that it's not in the database so far. I could download and then upload it, but I'm still worried about the question of meta-date in pdf's (https://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=149140). I'll have to look that up sometime...
  5. Terrapinzflyer
    actually no- my response above is a "canned reply" which takes seconds, and serves the extra purpose of reminding people (or making them aware) of the archives & medline thread. ;)

    But I did run across a brief audio interviewer with this researcher on the topic- uploaded here: Cannabis and cancer: Research finds mixed results
  6. KS01
    This is weird, because I've heard before that cannabis is actually an immunostimulant. Anecdotally, I can also say that cannabis use helps me get over a cold faster (and no, it's not just "feeling high and not feeling the cold").
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