Marijuana For Liver Cancer

Overview

Liver cancer is a medical condition that results from the development of abnormal cells in the liver. The cells are termed as abnormal because they proliferate at a higher rate than normal. Eventually, these cells form a tumor in the liver which interferes with the normal functioning of the organ. The disease is also referred to as hepatic cancer. When the condition originates from the liver’s cells, it is called primary liver cancer. Liver cancer, however, can also result from the spread of cancerous cells from other parts of the body such as the lungs and the colon. In such a case, the condition is known as secondary liver cancer. Some of the high-risk factors for this disease are excessive alcohol intake, diabetes, and hepatitis.

Conventional treatment methods

In a situation where the cancer has not propagated, it can be cured. Both forms of curing liver cancer involve surgery. When the tumor is small, the doctor can perform an operation to remove the part of the liver that is affected by the cancerous cells. In situations where the section of the liver that has cancerous cells is too large, one can undergo a liver transplant. Advanced stages of liver cancer are incurable. Doctors usually do their best to slow down the advancement of the disease. Treatment in advanced stages involves different radiation methods and chemotherapy. These remedies often result in chronic pain, hair loss, vomiting, nausea, fatigue and mouth sores.

How marijuana acts as treatment for liver cancer

In a cell line study conducted in 2015, Chinese researchers discovered that the administration of cannabis effectively stopped the growth of hepatocellular carcinoma cells (HCCs). These are the mutated cells that cause over 75 percent of liver cancer cases. This means that medical marijuana could help treat a majority of liver cancer patients.

Throughout their experiments, the Chinese scientists used WIN55 212-2. This compound is an artificial version of the cannabinoid THC. The synthetic cannabinoid arrested the target cancer cells, thereby stopping further propagation of the cancer. Since cancer’s adverse effects usually arise from the fact that the mutated cells continue to grow and divide uncontrollably, the research means that combined use of medical marijuana and other treatment methods could effectively treat even advanced stages of cancer. The cannabis would stop the cells from further growing while other methods such as chemotherapy destroy existing cancer cells.

Apart from primarily stopping the propagation of liver cancer, medical marijuana is also useful in the killing of cells. Currently, there is no direct evidence on cannabis’ effect on liver cancer cells. However, research conducted on other forms of cancer have found that THC and CBD can cause the death of cancer cells in two distinct ways. First, THC prevents the development of additional blood vessels as cancer cells grow. As a result, newly-formed cancer cells are starved of nutrients and die. When cannabis treatment is administered early, it could prevent cancer from developing into a tumor.

Secondly, both THC and CBD also induce programmed cell death. This refers to the onset of the self-destruction phase of a cell that has become aged or diseased. Once exposed to cannabis, cancer cells commit suicide. Medical marijuana has been successful in reducing tumor sizes in laboratory and animal models using this method.

Always consult your doctor before beginning a medical marijuana treatment program.