CBD Series: Part 1: Cannabis in The World of Breast Cancer by Dr. Susan Love Onyx + Rose believes in the therapeutic benefits of pure, high-quality CBD products for everyone. But, as a company, we are particularly focused on how our products can meet the needs of active, modern women. We make our products with a sense of purity, gentleness, and honesty that we learned from the women in our […] Health claims surrounding cannabis products frequently hit the news. But is there any evidence that they could reduce the risk of breast cancer coming back?
CBD Series: Part 1: Cannabis in The World of Breast Cancer by Dr. Susan Love
As a child of the 1960s, when I settled down to write a blog about cannabis and breast cancer, I thought, “This will be easy.” That was weeks ago! It turns out that there is now a lot of research to consider on the benefits and risks of cannabis use, and I have a lot of catching up to do.
This is the first of a three-part blog series on cannabis. It will provide a general overview about why cannabis might be considered useful to treat or ameliorate the collateral damage of breast cancer and its treatments. The next two will explain how cannabis interacts with the immune system through the endocannabinoid system, and how this may affect cancer cells.
First, we have to get our definitions straight. The cannabis plant (Cannabis sativa) produces at least 545 chemical compounds of different biogenetic classes. Many of these phytochemicals have been shown to have medicinal and physiological activity. The most prominent and most studied metabolites are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the metabolite that causes the high you get from smoking marijuana. CBD is more likely to provide relief from short-term side effects or the long-term collateral damage of cancer treatments. Some products contain THC and CBD, while some contain only THC or CBD. The proportion of THC to CBD in a product that contains both will determine the effect of these cannabinoids. There are also non-cannabinoid metabolites that have therapeutic potential.
The most surprising thing I learned while researching these blogs: our bodies have cannabidiol receptors that are similar to the estrogen receptors that are the targets of the hormonal therapies we use to treat hormone-sensitive breast cancer.
So, to begin: Is cannabis safe? One review of 25 English-language pooled studies found that marijuana use was indeed basically safe, though some research suggests it may increase the risk of testicular cancer.
In 2020, a study published in the Journal of Cannabis Research (yes, this journal exists!) showed that people are using medical cannabis for a wide range of health issues, highlighting the need for more research on its clinical benefits. Some of the most common uses include improving mental health and sleep, and reducing pain, neurological problems, and cancer-related side effects.
A 2020 study published in the journal Pharmaceuticals assessed the short-term outcomes of medical cannabis treatment prescribed by oncologists to treat cancer-related side effects. The study found THC was better for sleep than CBD. However, CBD oils appeared to help more with the collateral damage of cancer treatments. The American Pain Society guidelines on cannabis use for pain recommend cannabis oils that have low levels of THC and high levels of CBD.
Have questions about cannabis use? Put them in the comments and I will try to address them in my next two blogs on cannabis and cancer.
CBD and Breast Cancer
Onyx + Rose believes in the therapeutic benefits of pure, high-quality CBD products for everyone. But, as a company, we are particularly focused on how our products can meet the needs of active, modern women. We make our products with a sense of purity, gentleness, and honesty that we learned from the women in our lives, and we’re particularly interested in issues of women’s wellness.
IT’S PINK SEASON
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. And all those pink ribbons you see are bringing attention to a crucial issue. As women’s health issues go, breast cancer immediately comes to mind for many. In 2019, an estimated 268,600 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in the U.S. (along with 62,930 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer.) In fact, it’s the most common cancer among American women. One in 8 women in the United States will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. While modern medicine has made many advances when it comes to treating and preventing breast cancer, the potential for CBD oil to supplement traditional treatments is only just being explored.
SCIENCE SAYS THIS IS WORTH A TRY
There’s still a lot of research that needs to happen when it comes to CBD. But as a society, we’ve made tremendous progress in the last few years in regards to our attitude towards hemp. We’ve rounded up recent and noteworthy research regarding CBD and breast cancer.
According to the National Cancer Institute, research indicates that CBD may slow the growth or reduce the risk of recurrence of certain kinds of cancers, including breast cancer. It may enhance the potency of certain medications; and reduce chemotherapy side effects, including vomiting, nausea, and anxiety. Keep in mind, all these studies are limited, and experts agree that further research is needed to understand how CBD affects humans undergoing chemotherapy.
While clinical research into its efficacy is still getting off the ground, scientists and people who CBD has worked for agree that the compound merits further investigation. A 2017 World Health Organization report stated CBD may have antitumor effects, and that “CBD may have therapeutic benefits,” for a list of ailments, including cancer. The report went on to note “antiproliferative and anti-invasive actions in a large range of cancer types; induction of autophagy-mediated cancer cell death; chemopreventive effects.” If you don’t have your medical degree, what it means is that CBD may have a potentially important role to play in cancer therapy for some.
WHILE WE WAIT FOR THE SCIENCE, WHAT ELSE DO WE KNOW?
We learn more every day about the benefits of CBD oil. Let’s dive into the findings so far that focus on CBD and breast cancer.
CBD may play a role in inhibiting tumor growth. In a 2006 study, CBD inhibited breast cancer tumor growth in rats. “Both cannabidiol and the cannabidiol-rich extract inhibited the growth of xenograft tumors.” (AKA tumors grown in lab rats).
CBD may have an effect that mimics chemotherapy. Molecular Cancer Therapeutics reported in 2011, “an intricate interplay between apoptosis and autophagy in CBD-treated breast cancer cells and highlighted the value of continued investigation into the potential use of CBD as an antineoplastic agent.” Put simply, it looks like CBD may be making a positive impact, so let’s keep studying it to make sure.
CBD may potentially control aggressive breast cancer cells according to Breast Cancer Research and Treatment in a study published in August 2011. The study found that sought after “therapeutic interventions for aggressive and metastatic breast cancers,” since there are limited options available, and they declared CBD an “effective, targeted, and nontoxic” therapy. A 2017 study in the Journal of Natural Medicines found CBD to have similar effects in cases of “highly aggressive breast cancer,” but suggested further research.
Of all the available breast cancer treatments, CBD may be the first nontoxic option. A study from Molecular Cancer Therapeutics (2007) reported that “CBD represents the first nontoxic exogenous agent that can significantly decrease Id-1 expression in metastatic breast cancer cells leading to the down-regulation of tumor aggressiveness.”
CBDA is a precursor to CBD, and has been shown to inhibit tumors. According to a Japanese study from 2014: “CBDA is an inhibitor of highly aggressive human breast cancer cell migration.”
You already know: Traditional cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation come along with all kinds of side effects: nausea, loss of appetite, weight loss, etc. Research suggests cannabinoids may ease the neuropathic pain, nausea, and poor appetite cancer (and cancer treatment) can bring on, not to mention, CBD’s noted anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety properties.
AN IMPORTANT NOTE:
That’s an awful lot of positive findings, and hopefully, human clinical trials will be conducted in the U.S. soon. Since CBD is nontoxic and rarely has side effects, it may be worth a try in the meantime. As with any treatment regimen, you should, of course, discuss this with your physician. It’s important to remember that anything you ingest (dietary supplements and herbal remedies included) could potentially interfere with chemotherapy treatment, so be especially mindful if you’re undergoing treatment. When in doubt, discuss your CBD options with your oncologist and medical team to determine the best course of action.
OUR 2019 INITIATIVE: WE WALK THE WALK (AND BACK UP THOSE WHO WALK WITH US.
This year, a group of us at Onyx + Rose asked ourselves, “What can we do?” We believe in this cause passionately and wanted to show our support in a way that went beyond buying a quick shoutout on social media.
So, we teamed up with Making Strides Against Breast Cancer and donated over 750 CBD Spa Gift Sets for their annual walk event.
Our broad spectrum CBD beauty products, including Botanic Bombs, are an excellent way to soothe sore muscles, reduce pain and inflammation, and relieve stress, whether you have breast cancer yourself or are a tireless supporter who deserves a little break. It’s just our way of sharing the healing power of hemp with a group of strong women who we felt would benefit the most from incorporating our spa kit into their wellness ritual.
YOU’VE GOT THIS. AND WE’VE GOT YOU.
Research. Studies. Doctors. Technology. That is all a part of the breast cancer journey. But true healing comes from a holistic approach that treats the body and mind as one. A treatment regimen that includes CBD oil is a holistic approach to treating the whole person. Onyx + Rose believes that thoughtfully including broad and full spectrum CBD products into a wellness routine may help those dealing with breast cancer achieve a more comfortable outcome and a greater sense of well-being on their way back to wellness.
While we wait for the hard science to come in, early reports and the testimonials of many seem to indicate that CBD may play an active role in both promoting the efficacy of some breast cancer treatments or at least reducing the side effects. Without a doubt, our long relationship with customers has affirmed its powerful effects in stress relief, the reduction of inflammation, and the support of overall health and well-being.
If you or a loved one is dealing with a breast cancer diagnosis, know that Onyx + Rose is there for you with our sincere support, and hopefully, any measure of comfort or relief that CBD products can offer.
Can cannabis oil stop my breast cancer returning?
Health claims surrounding cannabis products frequently hit the news. But is there any evidence that they could reduce the risk of breast cancer coming back?
Breast Cancer Care’s Helpline often gets calls from people who are worried about their breast cancer returning after treatment, and who want to know if they can do anything to help.
Medical cannabis and cannabis oils have been in the news a lot recently. While these stories haven’t been about cancer, it’s clear some people believe cannabis could have anti-cancer properties.
However, despite ongoing research in this area, there’s no reliable evidence that any type of cannabis is an effective treatment for cancer.
What are cannabinoids?
Cannabis contains ingredients called cannabinoids. Two of these are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol).
THC is the chemical responsible for most of the effects that cannabis has on the mind or behaviour. CBD doesn’t cause these effects.
Some people think that cannabinoids like CBD may have health benefits.
Can cannabinoids be used to treat cancer?
According to Cancer Research UK: ‘Many hundreds of scientific papers looking at cannabinoids and cancer have been published, but these studies simply haven’t found enough robust scientific evidence to prove that these can safely and effectively treat cancer.’
The problem is that almost all these studies have been carried out either on cancer cells in the laboratory or on animals. And what works in the laboratory or in animals doesn’t necessarily have the same effect in the human body.
The chemicals used in these studies are also very different to the cannabis oils and products available to buy.
While a quick Google search will uncover examples of people who claim to have treated their cancer using cannabis oil, it’s not possible to draw conclusions from individual stories like these.
In order to properly assess the effects of cannabinoids on cancer, large clinical trials are necessary.
Is cannabis oil illegal?
According to the NHS website: ‘Many cannabis-based products are available to buy online, but their quality and content is not known. They may be illegal and potentially dangerous.’
Some cannabis-based products, such as hemp oil, can be bought legally as supplements from health food stores. However, there’s no guarantee that these products have any health benefits.
As the NHS website states: ‘Health stores sell certain types of ‘pure CBD’. However, there’s no guarantee these products will be of good quality. And they tend to only contain very small amounts of CBD, so it’s not clear what effect they would have.’
A very small number of people may get medical cannabis on prescription, for example if they have a severe form of epilepsy, or vomiting or nausea caused by chemotherapy. However, this likely to be the case only if other treatments have been tried first.
Dealing with worries about recurrence
Most people worry about breast cancer coming back (recurrence). These worries are normal, and the fear and anxiety usually lessens with time.
Knowing how to continue to be breast and body aware after treatment and the symptoms you should report can help manage your feelings of uncertainty.
The treatment you received will have been given to reduce the risk of the breast cancer coming back at its original site or elsewhere in the body.
Everyone copes with worries about recurrence in their own way, and there are no easy answers. But keeping quiet about them is probably not the best approach.
Breast Cancer Care’s Forum lets you share your worries with other people in a similar situation to you.
You can also read our tips on coping with anxiety and find suggestions in BECCA, our free app that helps you move forward after breast cancer treatment.