National Cancer Institute on Cannabis and Cannabinoids

The National Cancer Institute website (a .gov site that’s part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health) has a new Information Summary on the use of Cannabis and its components for people with cancer-related symptoms caused by the disease itself or its treatment.

It’s actually quite good, and pretty handily disputes what much of the rest of the government is saying.

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16 Responses to National Cancer Institute on Cannabis and Cannabinoids

  1. Chris says:

    “Cannabis is difficult to study because of the lack of standardization of the botanical product due to the many climates and environments in which it is grown. Clinical trials conducted on medicinal Cannabis are limited.”

    Right. It’s difficult to study because we haven’t figured out how to grow it indoors in a climate controlled environment yet. Not because only one producer has been licensed to do so.

  2. malcolm kyle says:

    Great find Pete! Here’s my new Boilerplate:

    The following text is taken directly from The US Government’s National Cancer Institute website:


    One study in mice and rats suggested that cannabinoids may have a protective effect against the development of certain types of tumors. During this 2-year study, groups of mice and rats were given various doses of THC by gavage. A dose-related decrease in the incidence of hepatic adenoma tumors and hepatocellular carcinoma was observed in the mice. Decreased incidences of benign tumors (polyps and adenomas) in other organs (mammary gland, uterus, pituitary, testis, and pancreas) were also noted in the rats. In another study, delta-9-THC, delta-8-THC, and cannabinol were found to inhibit the growth of Lewis lung adenocarcinoma cells in vitro and in vivo. In addition, other tumors have been shown to be sensitive to cannabinoid-induced growth inhibition.

    Cannabinoids may cause antitumor effects by various mechanisms, including induction of cell death, inhibition of cell growth, and inhibition of tumor angiogenesis and metastasis. Cannabinoids appear to kill tumor cells but do not affect their nontransformed counterparts and may even protect them from cell death. These compounds have been shown to induce apoptosis in glioma cells in culture and induce regression of glioma tumors in mice and rats. Cannabinoids protect normal glial cells of astroglial and oligodendroglial lineages from apoptosis mediated by the CB1 receptor.

    In an in vivo model using severe combined immunodeficient mice, subcutaneous tumors were generated by inoculating the animals with cells from human non-small cell lung carcinoma cell lines. Tumor growth was inhibited by 60% in THC-treated mice compared with vehicle-treated control mice. Tumor specimens revealed that THC had antiangiogenic and antiproliferative effects.


    In addition, both plant-derived and endogenous cannabinoids have been studied for anti- inflammatory effects. A mouse study demonstrated that endogenous cannabinoid system signaling is likely to provide intrinsic protection against colonic inflammation. As a result, a hypothesis that phytocannabinoids and endocannabinoids may be useful in the prevention and treatment of colorectal cancer has been developed.


    Another study has shown delta-9-THC is a potent and selective antiviral agent against Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), also known as human herpesvirus 8. The researchers concluded that additional studies on cannabinoids and herpesviruses are warranted, as they may lead to the development of drugs that inhibit the reactivation of these oncogenic viruses. Subsequently, another group of investigators reported increased efficiency of KSHV infection of human dermal microvascular epithelial cells in the presence of low doses of delta-9-THC.
    Appetite Stimulation


    Many animal studies have previously demonstrated that delta-9-THC and other cannabinoids have a stimulatory effect on appetite and increase food intake. It is believed that the endogenous cannabinoid system may serve as a regulator of feeding behavior. The endogenous cannabinoid anandamide potently enhances appetite in mice. Moreover, CB1 receptors in the hypothalamus may be involved in the motivational or reward aspects of eating.


    Understanding the mechanism of cannabinoid-induced analgesia has been increased through the study of cannabinoid receptors, endocannabinoids, and synthetic agonists and antagonists. The CB1 receptor is found in both the central nervous system (CNS) and in peripheral nerve terminals. Similar to opioid receptors, increased levels of the CB1 receptor are found in sections of the brain that regulate nociceptive processing. CB2 receptors, located predominantly in peripheral tissue, exist at very low levels in the CNS. With the development of receptor-specific antagonists, additional information about the roles of the receptors and endogenous cannabinoids in the modulation of pain has been obtained.

    Cannabinoids may also contribute to pain modulation through an anti-inflammatory mechanism; a CB2 effect with cannabinoids acting on mast cell receptors to attenuate the release of inflammatory agents, such as histamine and serotonin, and on keratinocytes to enhance the release of analgesic opioids has been described.

  3. Rick Steeb says:

    This makes a great appendage to the “current” [nine-years-old] “Petition to Reschedule Cannabis”, eh?

  4. Chris says:

    I don’t see the NIDA study by Tashkin mentioned here, which would be a huge omission.

    A number of studies have yielded conflicting evidence regarding the risks of various cancers associated with Cannabis use. A case- cohort study of men in northwestern Africa showed a significantly increased risk of lung cancer among tobacco smokers who also inhaled Cannabis. A large retrospective cohort study from the United States found that Cannabis use was not associated with tobacco-related cancers and a number of other common malignancies, but did find that among nonsmokers of tobacco, ever having used Cannabis was associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer.[5] A population-based case-control study of the association between Cannabis use and the risk of lung and aerodigestive tract cancers in Los Angeles found no positive associations with any cancer type (oral, pharyngeal, laryngeal, lung, or esophagus) when adjusting for several confounders including cigarette smoking.[6] A comprehensive Health Canada monograph on Marihuana (Marijuana, Cannabis): Information for Health Care Professionals concludes that while there are many cellular and molecular studies that provide strong evidence that inhaled marijuana is carcinogenic, the epidemiologic evidence of a link between marijuana use and cancer is still inconclusive. [7]

  5. Dante says:

    Headlines from just the last two days (paraphrased):

    1. Cannabis prevents cancer.

    2. Drug Courts don’t help one bit.

    3. The War on Drugs is a miserable failure.

    And yet it continues, with no end in sight and not one goal successfully met, at a cost of $50 billion per year.

    • This is not my America says:

      Its just maddening, beyond frustarting, pull your hair out stupid !

      How can one part of government, based in science,medical study and sanity be over ruled by another part of government that has no science based value, no medical back ground, based on lies ,greed and racism….how can the people of this country and politicains be so stupid as to follow the ONDCP and the DEA !

      Its no wonder this country is headed down hill.

    • Duncan20903 says:

      Dante, don’t forget about the interest on the debt from borrowing money to squander on the war on (some) drugs. The interest on a trillion dollars at the blended rate the government is paying out is in the neighborhood of $55-60 billion all by itself.

  6. Chris says:

    “In a retrospective cohort study of 64,855 men aged 15 to 49 years, participants were divided into cohorts based on their use of tobacco and marijuana: never inhaled either, inhaled only Cannabis, inhaled only tobacco, and inhaled tobacco and Cannabis.[5] Among the nonsmokers, two cases of lung cancer were diagnosed during the follow-up period. Among the men who inhaled tobacco either alone or in addition to marijuana, the risk of lung cancer increased tenfold. In the follow-up of men who inhaled marijuana alone, no cases of lung cancer were documented.”

    Ok, so they did reference the study that the Tashkin study looked at. I’m happy then.

  7. Paul Armentano says:

    @Chris: The site does reference the UCLA study conducted by Tashkin et al. It is this one:

    “A population-based case-control study of the association between Cannabis use and the risk of lung and aerodigestive tract cancers in Los Angeles found no positive associations with any cancer type (oral, pharyngeal, laryngeal, lung, or esophagus) when adjusting for several confounders including cigarette smoking.[6]” The lead author of this study was Hashibe, not Tashkin.

    The separate you site is by Sidney et al, not Tashkin. This is also an important paper, conducted by Kaiser some years prior to Hashibe’s work.

    “In a retrospective cohort study of 64,855 men aged 15 to 49 years, participants were divided into cohorts based on their use of tobacco and marijuana: never inhaled either, inhaled only Cannabis, inhaled only tobacco, and inhaled tobacco and Cannabis.[5]

  8. darkcycle says:

    This is good, another admission that Cannabis is medicine. But expect the Drug Czar to ingnore it, like always. (I wouldn’t be surprised if this webpage was taken down in just a few days.)

  9. DdC says:

    Any test using “cigarettes” is false, most people don’t smoke plain tobacco anymore since Ronnie Rayguns additions for your smoking pleasure. Some organic brands from Indians maybe. Most smoke “cigarettes” and that isn’t “tobacco”. It’s adulterated with hundreds of additional synthetic chemicals that are the carcinogens… and until they are separated no test will be valid. Especially comparing it to Ganja. These Liars lie for profit, and some to sell Vaporizers. They don’t occassionally tell the truth, unless forced. Even then nothing changes because they have an agenda to profit. It is nice to see the smoke worriers squirm… Won’t shut em up but…

    Mar 21 2011

    Trying to connect with pot’s cancer-fighting properties
    While THC and the biological mechanisms it uses are well documented, there are still mysteries surrounding the lesser-known chemical CBD.

    February 25, 2011

    Marijuana not dangerous and can aid healing Feb 23 2011
    Scientific research has proven that unlike tobacco smoke, marijuana smoke allows damaged lung cells to die and be replaced by new ones.

    Na na na na na na!

    Study Finds No Cancer, Marijuana Connection By Marc Kaufman
    CN Source: Washington Post May 25, 2006 Washington, D.C
    While no association between marijuana smoking and cancer was found, the study findings, presented to the American Thoracic Society International Conference this week, did find a 20-fold increase in lung cancer among people who smoked two or more packs of cigarettes a day.

    Only The PotHeads Will Survive 11/01/01
    Counter Reefer Maniac accusations that marijuana users support terrorism with the plain fact that these dizzy morons are preventing the use of the “best available protection against nerve gas attack” with their marijuana madness.

    in this link…

    Banned Nerve Gas Used on Yemeni Protesters
    Marijuana Substitute Combats Nerve Gas
    Marijuana protects your brain
    Cannabis Prevents Brain Damage
    Cannabis Blocks Irreversible Brain Damage
    Ganjawar Prevents Brain Tumor Treatment
    Ganjawar in Everything
    Can Cannabis the Antibiotic Treat Anthrax?
    Cannabis Shrinks Tumors: Government Knew in 74
    Benefits of Marijuana: Acute radiation syndrome

    • DdC says:

      Organic Cannabis/Tobacco vs Chemical Cigarettes

      Proven: Cannabis is a safe medicine by Ian Williams Goddard
      BOSTON, Jan. 30, 1997 (UPI) –

      The U.S. federal government has failed to make public its own 1994 study that undercuts its position that marijuana is carcinogenic – a $2 million study by the National Toxicology Program. The program’s deputy director, John Bucher, says the study “found absolutely no evidence of cancer.” In fact, animals that received THC had fewer cancers. Bucher denies his agency had been pressured to shelve the report, saying the delay in making it public was due to a personnel shortage.

      The Boston Globe reported Thursday (1-30-97) that the study indicates not only that the main ingredient in marijuana, THC, does not cause cancer, but also that it may even protect against malignancies, laboratory tests on animals show. The report comes on the heels of an editorial in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine that favors the controlled medical use of marijuana, and calls current federal policy “misguided, heavy-handed and inhumane.”

      The Clinton administration has said that doctors prescribing marijuana could be prosecuted for a federal crime. Marijuana has been reported to ease the pain, nausea and vomiting in advanced stages of cancer, AIDS and other serious illnesses, but the federal government claims other treatments have been deemed safer than what it calls “a psychoactive, burning carcinogen.” However, The Boston Globe says the government’s claim appears to be undercut by its own $2 million study.

      Cannabis Whets Appetite for Cancer Patients
      People with advanced cancer said food tasted better when they took the active ingredient in cannabis compared with sugar pills, a small Canadian study showed.

      Jack Herer’s “The Emperor Wears No Clothes”
      11th Edition table of contents
      Therapeutic Use of Cannabis
      # Asthma # Glaucoma # Tumors # Nausea/Cancer Chemotherapy # Epilepsy, Multiple Sclerosis, Back Pain & Spasms # Antibiotics & Antibacterial CBDs # Herpes, Cystic Fibrosis, Arthritis & Rheumatism # Expectorant # Sleep & Relaxation # Emphysema # Stress, Migraines # Appetite # Salivation

      There are always a few, better endowed than others, who feel the weight of the yoke and cannot restrain themselves from attempting to shake it off…. These are in fact the men who, possessed of clear minds and far-sighted spirit, are not satisfied, like the brutish mass, to see
      only what is at their feet, but rather look about them, behind and before, and even recall the things of the past in order to judge those of the future, and compare both with their present condition. These are the ones who, having good minds of their own, have further trained them
      by study and learning. Even if liberty had entirely perished from the earth, such men would reinvent it. For them slavery has no satisfactions, no matter how well disguised.
      –Etienne de la Boetie,
      The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude

    • DdC says:

      What is the lethal dose of marijuana?

      Ganja 4 Banned Nerve Gas Used on Yemeni Protesters

      Benefits of Marijuana: Acute radiation syndrome

      Here and Now

      What is the use of planning to be able to eat next week unless I can really enjoy the meals when they come ? If I am so busy planning how to eat next week that I cannot fully enjoy what I am eating now, I will be in the same predicament when next week’s meals become “now.” If my happiness at this moment consists largely in reviewing happy memories and expectations, I am but dimly aware of this present. I shall still be dimly aware of the present when the good things that I have been expecting come to pass. For I shall have formed a habit of looking behind and ahead, making it difficult for me to attend to the here and now. If, then, my awareness of the past and future makes me less aware of the present, I must begin to wonder whether I am actually living in the real world.
      ~ Alan W. Watts, The Wisdom Of Insecurity

  10. Servetus says:

    I think the Information Summary at the National Cancer Institute is a perfect go-to (or send-to) site for all the cranks who still claim marijuana lacks medical benefits. The prohibitionists and their propaganda factory are easier to humiliate publicly now. Although they do a better job of humiliating themselves in many cases.

    • DdC says:

      They’ve always known the Medicinal Value, What they claimed was as true as any Clinton legalese. They have not “seen” any research on any medicinal value. Since the IOM still sits in the HHS file#13, and until they release it to the FDA to test, then there are no government reports stating cannabis’ medicinal value. Nix NIDA since they’re outlawed from medicinal research. Anecdotal doesn’t count except in reality. Letting we the people grow is the farthest thing on their, for a lack of a better term, minds. Now they can state publicly that cannabinoids have medicinal value. Just not by smoking buds.

      Medicinal marijuana works well with patients
      Mar 22 2011: Weed works. Many people across this country are coming to the realization that medical cannabis is a safe, affordable, healthy alternative to toxic synthetic pharmaceutical drugs which can damage organs and can have severe and sometimes fatal side effects.

      Will Radiation From Japan Affect The 2011 Marijuana Crop?
      Mar 22 2011 THE 420 TIMES: If significant radiation hits California from Japan, how will this affect our $10 Billion marijuana crop? Will it be safe to smoke, or even make edibles from? Will the 2011 crop have to be tested with geiger counters? Will growers be forced to certify they were indoor-only? Or will we all be dead anyway and not have to worry about it?

      What You Need to Know About Cannabinoids
      US MI:Column:Gabriel,Larry Metro Times 23 Mar 2011

      Pot Contamination Still Festers
      CN BC: MapINC Recent Media Headlines

  11. EvilPoet says:

    Claim: According to the United States government marijuana currently has no accepted medical use.

    Fact: United States Patent: 6630507 (Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants) “Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia.” (via

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