British Medical Journal: Daily Use of CBD Oil May Be Linked to Lung Cancer Regression

CBD Testing Concept

May be worth further exploring cannabinoids as potential cancer treatment, say researchers.

It may be worth exploring further the use of cannabidiol (‘CBD’) oil as a potential lung cancer treatment, suggest doctors in BMJ Case Reports after dealing with a daily user whose lung tumor shrank without the aid of conventional treatment.

The body’s own endocannabinoids are involved in various processes, including nerve function, emotion, energy metabolism, pain and inflammation, sleep and immune function.

Chemically similar to these endocannabinoids, cannabinoids can interact with signaling pathways in cells, including cancer cells. They have been studied for use as a primary cancer treatment, but the results have been inconsistent.

Lung cancer remains the second most common cancer in the UK. Despite treatment advances, survival rates remain low at around 15% five years after diagnosis. And average survival without treatment is around 7 months.

The report authors describe the case of a woman in her 80s, diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer. She also had mild chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), osteoarthritis, and high blood pressure, for which she was taking various drugs. 

She was a smoker, getting through around a pack plus of cigarettes every week (68 packs/year).

Her tumor was 41 mm in size at diagnosis, with no evidence of local or further spread, so she was suitable for conventional treatment of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. But the woman refused treatment, so was placed under ‘watch and wait’ monitoring, which included regular CT scans every 3-6 months.

These showed that the tumor was progressively shrinking, reducing in size from 41 mm in June 2018 to 10 mm by February 2021, equal to an overall 76% reduction in maximum diameter, averaging 2.4% a month, say the report authors.

When contacted in 2019 to discuss her progress, the woman revealed that she had been taking CBD oil as an alternative self-treatment for her lung cancer since August 2018, shortly after her original diagnosis.

She had done so on the advice of a relative, after witnessing her husband struggle with the side effects of radiotherapy. She said she consistently took 0.5 ml of the oil, usually three times a day, but sometimes twice. 

The supplier had advised that the main active ingredients were Δ9-­tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) at 19.5%, cannabidiol at around 20%, and tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) at around 24%. 

The supplier also advised that hot food or drinks should be avoided when taking the oil as she might otherwise feel stoned. The woman said she had reduced appetite since taking the oil but had no other obvious ‘side effects’. There were no other changes to her prescribed meds, diet, or lifestyle. And she continued to smoke throughout.

This is just one case report, with only one other similar case reported, caution the authors. And it’s not clear which of the CBD oil ingredients might have been helpful.

“We are unable to confirm the full ingredients of the CBD oil that the patient was taking or to provide information on which of the ingredient(s) may be contributing to the observed tumor regression,” they point out.

And they emphasize: “Although there appears to be a relationship between the intake of CBD oil and the observed tumor regression, we are unable to conclusively confirm that the tumor regression is due to the patient taking CBD oil.”

Cannabis has a long ‘medicinal’ history in modern medicine, having been first introduced in 1842 for its analgesic, sedative, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and anticonvulsant effects. And it is widely believed that cannabinoids can help people with chronic pain, anxiety, and sleep disorders; cannabinoids are also used in palliative care, the authors add. 

“More research is needed to identify the actual mechanism of action, administration pathways, safe dosages, its effects on different types of cancer and any potential adverse side effects when using cannabinoids,” they conclude.

Reference: “Lung cancer patient who had declined conventional cancer treatment: could the self-administration of ‘CBD oil’ be contributing to the observed tumour regression?” by Kah Ling Liew, Ermanno Capuano and Bernard Yung, 14 October 2021, BMJ Case Reports.
DOI: 10.1136/bcr-2021-244195

5 Comments on "British Medical Journal: Daily Use of CBD Oil May Be Linked to Lung Cancer Regression"

  1. “The supplier had advised that the main active ingredients were Δ9-­tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) at 19.5%, cannabidiol at around 20%, and tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) at around 24%.”

    Very unusual cultivar, this guy’s selling. Unusual because plants comprising 20% or more THC are normally extremely low in cannabidiol (CBD). And vice versa. I think the patient’s weed dealer had not had his product tested. (See elsewhere in today’s science news, a study that claims most weed is inaccurately labeled.)

    It’s also kinda silly to give headline significance to one anecdotal case.

  2. It’s not that unusual and those ratios have been discussed for some years as being effective. Many types of seeds with these numbers are available if you look in the right places.

    >kinda silly

    It’s not the only case like this. Here is another:

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6385325/

    Do you suggest it should not be reported? It is an accumulation of anecdotal evidence that shows there is something worth investigation.

  3. The evidence that cannabinoids can fight cancer in at least some cases is truly overwhelming at this point. This is far from the only case and is just the latest in a long since since 2008. Just like CBD can definitely fight epilepsy but is not perfect, it’s the same for cancer. There are over a dozen case studies, case series, and a clinical trial on PubMed concerning these anticancer effects. The time for real trials and more patient access is now!

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  5. Andy:
    >”It’s not that unusual and those ratios have been discussed for some years as being effective. Many types of seeds with these numbers are available if you look in the right places.”

    I looked. I found nothing. Please name some strains that are achieve 20+ percent content for both CBD and THC. I don’t think there are “many” such strains. In the past, most cultivars were bred for high THC content and these had almost no CBD. (And, since the high-CBD flower has been shown to help control epilepsy, many strains have been bred for it but they have virtually no THC.) It appears about the best one can do is a 1:1 ratio strain, in which case THC and CBD can range up to 10% each.

    Andy: “Do you suggest it should not be reported? It is an accumulation of anecdotal evidence that shows there is something worth investigation.”
    I suggest this study does not merit a headline. A lot of folks do not read past the headline, and they will “remember” as a “fact” something that is highly provisional, if not illusory. This is a problem with Internet news sites: unlike a newspaper, they have no space constraints so damn near anything can get reported, usually with a headline that overpromises about significance. Climate catastrophism would be my case in point: lots of “settled science” alarmism that will be walked back or nuanced later, after it’s too late to alter the impression left by the overpromising headlines.

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