Could CBD Have an Impact on Brain Cancer?

Brain cancer is an illness most people, fortunately, will never encounter, but it is still undoubtedly a health threat that is present in the United States. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) estimates that nearly 24,000 Americans are diagnosed with some form of brain cancer every year. Worse still, around 16,000 people die from this disease annually. Brain cancer may only account for 1.4% of cancer diagnoses, and less than 3% of cancer deaths, according to NCI statistics, but the five-year survival rate for brain cancer is extremely low, around 33%, even when diagnosed early.

Some patients, and researchers, have considered cannabidiol, more commonly known as CBD, for potential use in brain cancer regimens. Adjunct therapies and supplements are carefully examined for use with brain cancer because of the difficulties that occur when trying to treat it. The location of tumors in the brain can make surgical removal difficult, if not impossible. Chemotherapy may not always be an option due to the blood-brain barrier preventing certain drugs from accessing the brain, and damage to healthy brain tissue is also a concern when using either chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

The major types of therapy used to treat other cancers are therefore sometimes only of limited use when it comes to brain cancer. This is one of the major reasons that researchers, oncologists, and patients alike may look into a combination of traditional therapies, cutting-edge treatments, and supplements, including, in some cases, CBD.

The relative rarity of brain cancer means that it has been studied somewhat less than more common forms of the disease. There have yet to be any studies that specifically consider whether CBD could impact large samples of people with brain cancer, or animal models of the disease.

That said, some people diagnosed with brain cancer have utilized CBD because of what is known about its impact on other cancers. Vaccani et al., in a 2005 study, had determined that CBD administration in cell culture studies prevented certain tumor cells from moving through other living tissue, in a way that other cannabinoids seemed unlikely to be able to accomplish. While that study had considered gliomas, which are a type of brain cancer tumor, it is important to remember that the study used tissue cultures as its basis.

Another study by Ramer et al. from 2010 had determined that CBD, in mouse models, was associated with cancer cells becoming hindered from invading new tissue. Those results support the findings of Vaccani et al., where cancer cells showed a reduced ability to migrate across healthy tissue. Ramer et al. did not specifically consider brain cancer, but the results do illustrate the possibilities for CBD as part of a regimen for that disease.

In the near future, however, we may very well see more specific studies that examine the impact of CBD on brain cancer. In 2014, the Food and Drug Administration granted CBD the status of an “orphan drug,” meaning that researchers could design and propose clinical trial studies that would use CBD to treat glioblastoma, the most frequently occurring kind of brain cancer. This is a step in the right direction by the government, as researchers will be able to better understand the possibilities CBD holds for this disease if they can conduct clinical trials with it.

Hopefully, you or your loved ones will never have to encounter brain cancer, but we will keep you informed as researchers continue to study CBD's possibilities with that disease. Additionally, CBD has potential as a supplement for more common forms of cancer, as well. CBD topicals, from creams to lip balms, for example, may have a role for people experiencing pain, while vape liquids may hold potential for nausea and hunger.

Do you have a question or comment about CBD? Let us know, and we will respond right away. In the meantime, sign up for our newsletters and visit our website regularly for the latest updates on research, legislation, and other news impacting you and cannabidiol.

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