Men’s Health Awareness & Cannabis: Can It Help with Prostate Cancer?
Cannabis is helping untold numbers of Americans find real relief from many previously untreatable symptoms and chronic conditions, and we at Vireo Health firmly believe that current research will unlock many other valid and medically useful roles for cannabis to play in our health and well-being.
That said, we’re far from defeating all threats to our health, and cancer remains at the top of the list of diseases we want to see eradicated. By far, one of the most common questions we get from patients at Vireo Health is: “Can cannabis cure cancer?”
The most realistic answer we can give is: “No, at least not yet.” But when it comes to prostate cancer and cannabis, there are some positive signs that this powerful plant-based medicine may have a role to play in combating this disease, currently the most common cancer in American men and the second cause of cancer-related death. We’ll share what we currently know on the topic, and point you towards some resources you may find helpful.
Prostate Cancer and Cannabis: The Science
The prostate gland is part of the male reproductive system. Its principal function is to secrete prostate fluid, one of the components of semen. As men age, their prostate glands are increasingly at risk of developing prostate cancer. That said, roughly one man in 9 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime, and only one in 39 will die of it.
Can this be prevented? While it’s true that certain cannabinoids—the “active ingredients” in cannabis—have been shown to fight certain cancer cells in laboratory conditions, it’s still far too early to suggest that cannabis is a “cure.”
That said, there are some intriguing correlations between prostate cancer and cannabis. The cannabinoids in cannabis interact with specialized cells in our bodies called CB1 and CB2 receptors. The prostate gland contains a higher-than-average number of such receptor cells; in other words, it’s more reactive to cannabis than most organs.
In laboratory conditions, studies have shown that when cancerous prostate cells are treated with certain cannabinoids, the cancer becomes less viable and more prone to apoptosis, or programmed cell death.
What’s more, some cannabinoids suppress androgen receptor activity on the cancer cells (androgens are male hormones that appear to “fuel” prostate cancer). A study published in 2013 demonstrated both these effects in the laboratory and in rodent models, a necessary precursor to human-based studies.
These findings are sparking excitement in the oncological community, suggesting several pathways forwards in terms of designing effective cancer therapies. But again, it’s too early to tout cannabis as a cure, despite much anecdotal evidence. What we can say with certainty is that cannabis can help those suffering from the side effects of cancer treatments.
Cannabis and Cancer: Effective for Symptoms and Side Effects
Cannabis is uniquely suited to manage some of the current cancer therapies’ worst side effects, including nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, and pain and inflammation. It’s also a powerful and effective tool when the goal of treatment is palliative care, designed to relieve the discomfort and stress of major illness rather than curing the illness itself.
For a start, studies confirm that several cannabinoids exhibit powerful anti-inflammatory effects, a major factor in relieving several types of pain.
What’s more, cannabis has a long and proven track record in combating the nausea and appetite loss associated with current first-line cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation.
We’ll be sure to keep you posted on any and all developments at the crossroads of prostate cancer and cannabis. In the meantime, if you have any questions regarding the use of cannabis to help ease the symptoms of cancer and cancer treatments, please don’t hesitate to drop us a line. We’d love to help you get the maximum benefits of this truly unique and effective all-natural medicine.