REPORT SUPRESSED THAT MARIJUANA COMPONENTS CAN INHIBIT CANCER GROWTH
Clinical research touted by the journal of the American Association for
Cancer Research that shows marijuana's components can inhibit the growth of
cancerous brain tumors is the latest in a long line of studies
demonstrating the drug's potential as an anti-cancer agent.
Not familiar with it? You're not alone. Despite the value of these studies,
both in terms of the treatment of life-threatening illnesses and as items
of news - the latest being that performed by researchers at Madrid's
Complutense University that found cannabis restricts the blood supply to
glioblastoma multiforme tumors, an aggressive brain tumor that kills some
7,000 people in the United States per year - US media coverage of them has
been almost non-existent. Why the blackout?
For starters, all of these medical cannabis studies were conducted overseas.
Secondly, not one of them has been acknowledged by the US government.
This wasn't always the case. In fact, the first experiment documenting
pot's anti-tumor effects took place in 1974 at the Medical College of
Virginia at the behest of the US government. The results of that study,
reported in an Aug. 18, 1974, Washington Post newspaper feature, were that
marijuana's psychoactive component, THC, "slowed the growth of lung
cancers, breast cancers and a virus-induced leukemia in laboratory mice,
and prolonged their lives by as much as 36 percent."
Despite these favorable preliminary findings, US government officials
banished the study, and refused to fund any follow-up research until
conducting a similar - though secret - clinical trial in the mid-1990s.
That study, conducted by the US National Toxicology Program to the tune of
$2 million concluded that mice and rats administered high doses of THC over
long periods had greater protection against malignant tumors than untreated
controls. However, rather than publicize their findings, government
researchers shelved the results, which only became public after a draft
copy of its findings were leaked in 1997 to a medical journal which in turn
forwarded the story to the national media.
However, in the eight years since the completion of the National Toxicology
trial, the US government has yet to fund a single additional study
examining the drug's potential anti-cancer properties. Is this a case of
federal bureaucrats putting politics over the health and safety of patients?
You be the judge
. Fortunately, scientists overseas have generously picked
up where US researchers so abruptly left off. In 1998, a research team at
Complutense's Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology discovered
that THC can selectively induce program cell death in brain tumor cells
without negatively impacting the surrounding healthy cells.
Then in 2000, they reported in the journal Nature Medicine that injections
of synthetic THC eradicated malignant gliomas (brain tumors) in one-third
of treated rats, and prolonged life in another third by six weeks. Last
year, researchers at the University of Milan in Naples, Italy, reported in
the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics that
non-psychoactive compounds in marijuana inhibited the growth of glioma
cells in a dose dependent manner, and selectively targeted and killed
malignant cells through a process known as apoptosis.
And finally, this month, researchers reported that marijuana's constituents
inhibited the spread of brain cancer in human tumor biopsies from patients
who had failed standard cancer therapies.