The psychoactive component in cannabis – THC – has long been sidelined when it comes to medical marijuana treatment, mainly due to stigma and its supposedly psychotropic effects. Instead, the calming part of cannabis – CBD – takes the lion’s share of the credit in the medical pot world.
But researchers at Harvard University found out that THC cuts tumor growth in common lung cancer in half, the US Health Times reported. On top of that, they discovered that THC significantly reduces the ability of cancer to spread.
The researchers say it is the first set of experiments testing THC and its effects on cancerous cells.
Lung cancer is the most aggressive form of these tumors and tends to spread quickly.
“The beauty of this study is that we are showing that a substance of abuse if used prudently, may offer a new road to therapy against lung cancer,” said Anju Preet, Ph.D., a researcher in the Division of Experimental Medicine.
Due to stigma and fear of violating U.S. federal laws, THC’s medicinal value has long been overlooked.
However, there is a medical derivative of THC, known as Marinol, which has been approved for use as an appetite stimulant for cancer patients. Marinol is used in a small number of U.S. states, which permit the use of medical marijuana to treat the same side effect.
But few studies have shown that THC might be anti-tumor, Preet said.
British scientists are now also pushing to pursue more research on the green plant.
At MediPen research facility at the British port city of Cardiff, south coast of Wales, scientists are researching marijuana’s effect on lung cancer too.
The team’s managing director dubbed the experiment in late March as the first of its kind in the world.
The British scientists are not just studying CBD, but also THC.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death worldwide. In 2015, cancer claimed the lives of 8.8 million people. Globally, nearly 1 in 6 die because of cancer.
While these studies are new and signal science acceptance to the green plant, many marijuana advocates and especially patients have sworn to marijuana’s cancer-eating benefits.