Medical Cannabis and Breast Cancer
October is breast cancer awareness month and we at Arfinn Med would like to reiterate the importance of early screening and regular tests. According to the American Cancer Society:
“Breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women, except for skin cancers. Currently, the average risk of a woman in the United States developing breast cancer sometime in her life is about 13%. This means there is a 1 in 8 chance she will develop breast cancer. This also means there is a 7 in 8 chance she will never have the disease.”
Though more studies are needed, we wanted to share some current research about medical marijuana and how it can possibly help breast cancer patients.
According to Virginia F. Borges, M.D., MMSc., professor of medicine and director of the Breast Cancer Research Program at the University of Colorado Cancer Center, she finds that cannabis can help improve some of the symptoms associated the breast cancer treatment.
“I’ve mainly seen it used in conjunction with prescription drugs to control pain and other side effects in patients living with metastatic disease,” she said. “It’s rare that a person living with metastatic breast cancer would have only one side effect to manage. So, by adding in medical marijuana, it often allows me to cut back on the number of drugs I prescribe. With a high-quality source for medical marijuana and knowing how it affects an individual, using medical marijuana can put more control back in the hands of my patient. If someone is feeling good, she may only need to take one or two drops per day. If she’s not feeling good, she may need three or four drops per day. Many of the prescription drugs don’t have this flexibility. Any time you can give control back to a person when their living with cancer, it’s a good thing.”
In addition to helping with the side effects of treatment, some research has shown the ability for cannabidiol (CBD) to actually treat breast cancer itself. A study published in the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics found CBD to be very helpful in inhibiting aggressive cancer cells.
“In the study the team led by senior scientist Dr. Sean D. McAllister used CBD to inhibit the activity of the Id-1 gene, believed to be responsible for cancer cells becoming more aggressive and metastatic. “Metastasis is the final and fatal step in the progression of breast cancer,” the authors write. “Currently available therapeutic strategies at this stage of cancer progression are often nonspecific, have only marginal efficacy and are highly toxic.”
Though cannabinoid medicine has been shown to help with some aspects of breast cancer and the resulting treatment side effects, more research is needed to truly understand its role in the recovery of breast cancer patients. We hope that as the stigma of medical marijuana disappears, research will be easier to conduct.
In the meantime, please get regular screenings and encourage others to do as well!