The Vital Role Medicinal Marijuana Plays in Treating Cancer

The Vital Role Medicinal Marijuana Plays in Treating Cancer

One of the biggest proponents of medicinal marijuana is its influence on a disease that almost 40% of us will be diagnosed within our lifetime. Cancer—in its various guises, is pushing overall health closer and closer to what many would consider a state of crisis. The number of new cancer cases is predicted to almost double in the next two decades, with economic costs worldwide already sitting at 1.6 trillion dollars.

Considering cannabis for additional cancer treatment
While the numbers may be dismal, new research involving medicinal marijuana’s effect on cancer, along with cancer side effects, is hopeful. There are many different types of cancer than medicinal marijuana can have a positive impact on, including the brain, breast, prostate, lung, blood, oral, liver and pancreatic. People who suffer from these types of cancer face a myriad of symptoms from both the disease and the treatment they receive. Chemotherapy, the number one treatment for cancer patients, can cause a wide range of side effects that can be debilitating.
These can include but aren’t limited to:
• Fatigue
• Nausea/vomiting
• Pain-cross link to chronic pain post
• Hair loss
• Anemia
• Infection
• Blood clotting issues
• Nerve and muscle issues
• Flu-like symptoms
• Loss of appetite

The Bozeman area’s take on medicinal marijuana and cancer
Medicinal marijuana is a viable option for easing many of the issues that result from cancer and chemo. And it’s an option that doctors in Bozeman and Gallatin County aren’t ruling out. According to Bozeman Deaconess Hospital’s Connie Martin, director of marketing and communications, the hospital has no written policy for or against the medicinal marijuana. “Our doctors are allowed to practice within the limits of state and federal laws to provide the best quality care for patients,” she said in an interview with the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. Doctors at Bozeman Deaconess Hospital like Dr. Kathryn Borgenicht and Bozeman Deaconess Cancer Center’s Dr. Jack Hensold are open to recommending medicinal marijuana in specific circumstances. In the Daily article, Borgenicht explains, “For some of these people, medical marijuana has fewer side effects than opiate options.”

Research Breakthroughs on Cannabis and Cancer
Doctors—both in Bozeman and across the globe—are becoming more open to the benefits of medicinal marijuana as an influx of case studies and clinical trials prove it to be a viable treatment. Recent studies have shown that medical marijuana is useful for more than just curbing nausea or stimulating appetite. Trials around the world are uncovering marijuana’s power to halt tumor growth, even killing cancer cells in some scenarios. Scientists have discovered that THC has anti-cancer properties through “signaling platforms” found in the body called cannabinoids.

Some discoveries involving cannabis and cancer have been 20 years in the making. One of the most vital breakthroughs to set the stage for cannabis research occurred when molecular biologist, Pierre Desprez, paired with fellow researcher Sean McAllister to prove that marijuana could completely stop the spread of cancer. Desprez had spent decades studying ID-1, which is the gene that causes cancer to spread while McAllister had been researching the effects of Cannabidiol, more commonly known as CBD. What they discovered was that Cannabidiol could essentially “turn off” ID-1, thus stopping the spread of cancer throughout the body.

These developments are huge advances in treating some of the most aggressive forms of cancer, such as breast cancer, which affects 1 in 8 U.S. women and bears a higher death rate for women than any other type of cancer.

Cancer’s Effect on Montana
Perhaps this is why 76% of doctors approve of medicinal marijuana use in the United States. With such promising research results and such distressing statistics, it’s hard to find any argument against medicinal marijuana as a prospective answer to the ever-pressing cancer crisis.
Cancer has been the leading cause of death in Montana since 2008, and we at Greener Pastures understand that it is an issue that closely affects many Montanans in the Bozeman and surrounding areas. When considering additional treatments for cancer, we urge those of Gallatin County to explore alternative options that can enhance the effects of their chemo while easing some of its side effects.