Could Patients with Kidney Cancer Find Support in Cannabis and Cannabinoids?

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  • The recent study connecting kidney cancer treatment to cannabis was performed in a petri dish and did not include any humans.
  • Additional clinical trials are needed to determine if cannabis is a viable remedy to eliminate cancer cells.

Cannabis has been researched for its medicinal abilities, and one of the most publicized has been for cancer. While much of the connection has been for the improvement in appetite for patients going through chemotherapy, but the research for its potential impact on kidney cancer is much more promising.

Presently, the most common type of kidney cancer is renal cell carcinoma, which is 85% of the cases involving kidney cancer. Kidney cancer impacts one or both of the kidneys and can spread to other organs. Pain medications and smoking cigarettes can increase the risk, but cancer in this area can also arise from unknown sources. Treating kidney cancer in the earliest stages gives patients the best chance of a good prognosis.

There are many clinical trials that explore renal cell carcinoma, with new treatment options coming up all the time. Using cannabis as a treatment for this type of cancer is one of the more recent endeavors, as Rx Leaf reports that researchers believe that cannabis could cause the death of cancer cells.

A study was published in BMC Cancer, as a Polish research team discovered many new connections and data regarding this type of cancer and cannabinoids. Ultimately, the team was hoping to answer multiple questions that they have about two specific cannabinoids – JWH-133 and WIN-55. These two compounds are often used in early research models, as they work with the CB2 receptors. However, it connects directly to the receptor, rather than indirectly activating it. WIN-55 takes on a similar path, but in the way that THC binds with the CB1 receptors.

In renal cell carcinoma, the study found expression of both CB1 and CB2 receptors, though the CB2 receptors showed a much higher level. By the end of the study, the authors agreed that the CB2 receptor could play a substantial role in cancer treatments in the future, as the activation of it appears to inhibit tumor growth and is toxic to cancer cells.

The study does not definitively state that consumers can actually treat their cancer with cannabis just yet, as this is just a very early step in learning more. The entire study was performed in a petri dish, after all, but the research is starting in the right direction. Many consumers already handle their various ailments with the use of cannabis, like pain, inflammation, and loss of appetite. Still, it is worth considering how far this research has come already, even though it still has a long way to go.

Alyssa Gocinski
Alyssa majors in Journalism at Emerson College. While abroad in the Netherlands, she became interested in drug policy when interviewing locals about the cannabis industry. Alyssa researches widespread material and breaks it down into enjoyable and easy-to-read pieces.

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