THC treatments helped to prevent colon cancer in mice: U.S. study
New research shows that the cannabis-derived compound eases inflammation.
Original Article by Angela Stelmakowich
Treating mice with THC helped prevent colon cancer in the animals by suppressing inflammation, concludes a new study out of the University of South Carolina.
Published last month in iScience, the study shows that mice injected with both THC — tetrahydrocannabinol, the intoxicating cannabis compound — and a cancer-causing chemical showed no cancer tumours. That differed from the control group, which did not receive any THC.
“The fact that we were able to show that treatment with THC prevents inflammation in the colon and at the same time inhibits the development of colon cancer supports the notion that inflammation and colon cancer are closely linked,” researcher Prakash Nagarkatti, Ph.D., vice president for research at the university, explains in a university article posted on Medical Xpress.
That being the case, Nagarkatti says THC or other anti-inflammatory agents could be beneficial for patients at a higher risk of developing colon cancer.
The finding is based on research studies from the labs of Nagarkatti and Mitzi Nagarkatti, Ph.D, chair of the university’s Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology.
The study shows that THC was acting through CB2 receptors, which are expressed mainly on the immune cells and whose activation does not trigger psychoactivity. Mitzi Nagarkatti calls this exciting as it “suggests that compounds that activate CB2 and cause no psychoactive effects may be beneficial to prevent IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) and colon cancer.”
The new findings could prove significant given that patients with IBD — which includes conditions like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis and results from unrestrained inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract — are at a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer.
Globally, IBD incidence is on the rise. “In fact, the risk of colon and rectal cancers is increasing at an alarming rate among young and middle-aged adults in the United States and the cause remains unknown,” adds the university statement.
That said, the researchers note more clinical trials and research is needed.
An analysis published earlier this year found that using cannabis could help ease IBD symptoms strong enough to send patients to the hospital. In all, “all-cause 30-day readmission rates were 12.7 per cent in non-cannabis users and 8.1 per cent in cannabis users.”
Another study published in 2016 noted: “Epidemiologic data and human therapy studies reveal a possible role for cannabinoids in the symptomatic treatment of IBD, although it has yet to be determined in human populations whether cannabinoids have therapeutic anti-inflammatory effects in IBD or are simply masking its many debilitating symptoms.”