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Cannabis in the Fight Against Breast Cancer

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by Ljubica Kostovic

Breast cancer is a complex form of cancer, with nearly 1.7 million cases diagnosed in 2012. According to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, “In 2015, it is estimated that 25,000 women and 220 men in Canada will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and that 5,000 women and 60 men will die from the disease”. As the second most common cancer, raising awareness about breast cancer is an important part of furthering public education and encouraging early detection.

Symptoms of cancer are wide-spread and can be very difficult to manage. Approximately 50-95% of all cancer patients experience pain at some point in their illness. For many, this pain remains uncontrolled and many more experience severe nausea, vomiting, and fatigue related to chemotherapy treatment. In addition, the experience of cancer, cancer-related pain and treatment side effects can often lead to feelings of anxiety and disturbances in sleep.

Given the severity and complexity of the symptoms experienced by cancer patients, it is essential that all treatment types are explored. Medical cannabis therapy offers a variety of therapeutic effects for numerous symptoms, including pain, nausea, vomitingsleep, and anxiety. In addition to raising awareness of breast cancer, it is also important to raise awareness about the potential therapeutic benefits of cannabis in assisting patients battling breast cancer.

Cannabis And Anti-Tumor Effects

Preliminary research indicates that cannabis may contain some cancer fighting agents. A 2015 study examining the anti-tumour role of cannabidiol (CBD), a non psychoactive component of cannabis, indicates that CBD has great potential to inhibit tumor growth in a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer called Triple-Negative Breast Cancer. These findings are echoed by additional research which investigates the potential of CBD as an anticancer drug. Research also shows that delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol has the potential to induce programmed cell death, or apoptosis, and also inhibits tumor growth without any toxic effects on healthy cells.

Additional research is needed in this extremely important realm. However, we do know that cannabis has therapeutic effects which can assist with cancer related pain, nausea, vomiting and anorexia. It can additionally promote a sense of calm during this extremely difficult time.

Cannabis For Managing Pain, Nausea and Appetite

Where pain is concerned, cannabis has a proven track record to help relieve the experience of pain. The cannabis plant is made up of over 100 cannabinoids, the active ingredients responsible for decreasing the experience of painful stimuli. Cannabis has a unique ability to provide patients with pain relief by acting on our own body’s endocannabinoid system and mimicking naturally occurring cannabinoids that are typically responsible for pain relief. The two most well-researched cannabinoids, Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD) are believed to be primarily responsible for providing analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects.

CBD rich cannabis strains provide patients with an added option for managing their pain without the the psychoactive effects typically attributed to THC. In instances where both CBD and THC rich strains are used for pain relief, CBD has the potential to mitigate the psychoactive effects when combined with THC at a high enough ratio.

Cannabis is also a known antiemetic, and has the ability to help decrease symptoms of nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy. Cannabis can also stimulate appetite which is essential for maintaining strength and healthy energy levels throughout treatment.

Cannabis For Improving Your Quality of Life

Cannabidiol (CBD) can further help breast cancer patients improve their quality of life by helping with anxiety, sleep disturbances, and fatigue. CBD is not only known for its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, but also its anxiolytic capabilities. This means that CBD helps to decrease anxiety and regulate emotional responses. Finding a treatment option which helps improve the experience of anxiety without severe side-effects can be essential for maintaining a positive attitude during this difficult time.

Another important factor for improving the quality of life for cancer patients is sleep. Sleep has a significant impact on our health. Good quality sleep helps the brain battle inflammation and the immune system ward off illness. A lack of sleep can compromise the body’s ability to cope with stressors and can pose additional challenges for patients battling breast cancer.

Whole plant cannabinoid therapy, containing the full cannabinoid profile of the cannabis plant, has been shown to help with sedation. Although the terpenes of the plant contribute to a sense of calm and relaxation, THC is the main sedative ingredient, and helps patients to fall asleep and stay asleep. Additionally, for those patents experiencing significant fatigue as a result of their illness or chemotherapy treatment, CBD may be useful as it has been shown to have energy altering properties, helping those who feel fatigued regain some energy.

Follow the author of this blog on Twitter: @ljubicakostovic

Reposted with permission from GrowWise.

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