Cannabis and Cancer: What Are the Benefits?

The etymology of the noun "patient" is found in the Latin patiens, or "to suffer". People take on the title of "patient" in varying scenarios; perhaps the most applicable use of the term is in the case of cancer patients. They suffer at the hands of cancer, both from the condition itself, and the treatments (chemotherapy, radiation, etc.) used to combat it. For thousands of years, medicinal cannabis has been used to relieve suffering, and came into use in western medicine in the 19th century. Since then, it has been a topic of ethical and political discussion throughout the nation- aggressively more so in recent years. Proponents of legalization return to a connection between cannabis and treating cancer repeatedly- and now, the federal government, through the National Cancer Institute, acknowledges a correlation:

"Cannabis and cannabinoids may have benefits in treating the symptoms of cancer or the side effects of cancer therapies. There is growing interest in treating children for symptoms such as nausea with Cannabis and cannabinoids, although studies are limited."

"Two cannabinoids (dronabinol and nabilone) are drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the prevention or treatment of chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting."

...And perhaps the most astounding:

"Cannabis has been shown to kill cancer cells in the laboratory."

These results are indicative of a hopeful future for legalization of prescribed cannabis. Testimonials from patients and doctors alike are numerous: Judith Cushner, a survivor of breast cancer, described her experience with medical marijuana. She was taking a cocktail mix of multiple strong painkillers, in addition to radiation and chemotherapy. The pills weren't helping, and then were even causing more pain, as she developed sores in her mouth from chemotherapy that made it nearly impossible to swallow. "During this time, a friend of mine (who happened to be a nurse) gave me a marijuana cigarette. I took just a few puffs and within minutes, the nausea dissipated. For the first time in several months, I felt relief. I also felt hope. I smoked small amounts of marijuana for the remainder of my chemotherapy and radiation treatment. It was not a regular part of my day, nor did it become a habit. Each time I felt nausea coming on, I inhaled just two or three puffs and it subsided." Cushner regained her lost weight, strength, and went into remission. "In retrospect, one of the greatest benefits from the marijuana was that it decreased my use of other, more disabling and toxic medications, including the Compazine, Reglan and Lorazepam."

Kate Scannell, MD, both oncologist and cancer patient, also testified to the effectiveness of medicinal marijuana. Scannell saw firsthand the benefits marijuana could bring to the lives of dying patients, such as the woman she roomed with while in the oncology ward. "And, from years of clinical experience, I - like many other doctors - also knew that marijuana could actually help her. From working with AIDS and cancer patients, I repeatedly saw how marijuana could ameliorate a patient's debilitating fatigue, restore appetite, diminish pain, remedy nausea, cure vomiting and curtail down-to-the-bone weight loss. I could firmly attest to its benefits and wager the likelihood that it would decrease her suffering."

A study, which was published last year in the medical journal Molecular Cancer Therapies, details the "dramatic reductions" in fatal variations of brain cancer when specific cannabinoids were used in conjunction with radiation therapy. So, not only has marijuana helped ease the suffering of patients, but it may well be an instrumental piece in the effort to develop cures.

If you or someone you know has had legal problems due to marijuana possession, medical marijuana or related issues, please call us today for a free case review. 866-416-2161

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