American war hero and US Senator John McCain has brain cancer. His malignancy, a glioblastoma, is often quickly lethal. On the other hand, this exact type of brain cancer shows great promise for treatment by medical cannabis. Marijuana offers John McCain perhaps his best chance at beating the growing mass in his brain. Whether he will be informed of this option, though, is another question.
Cannabis offers an almost bewildering profusion of medical benefits, and its power against cancer came was noted as early as 1974. For political correctness, though, these results were hidden. And being a Schedule I drug marijuana has been defined by congress and the DEA as having no medical value, stifled nearly all research in the USA. Luckily for humankind, medical cannabis has been studied around the globe and Spanish researchers at Madrid’s Complutense University have been investigating its cancer-fighting powers for two decades. Much of their work has focused on gliomas.
Manual Guzman and others from Complutense University in 2006 published in the British Journal Of Cancer the study, A pilot clinical study of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol in patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme. Their rationale was built on several earlier studies of various anti-cancer effects of cannabis:
We have previously shown that cannabinoids inhibit the growth (Galve-Roperh et al, 2000; Sánchez et al, 2001) and angiogenesis (Blázquez et al, 2003, 2004) of gliomas in animal models. Remarkably, this antiproliferative effect seems to be selective for brain-tumour cells as the survival of normal brain cells (astrocytes (Gómez del Pulgar et al, 2002), oligodendrocytes (Molina-Holgado et al, 2002) and neurons (Mechoulam et al, 2002)) is unaffected or even favoured by cannabinoid challenge. On the basis of these preclinical findings, we have conducted a pilot clinical study aimed at assessing cannabinoid antitumoral action in patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme.
Cannabis and the cannabinoids THC and CBD exert powerful anti-cancer actions in several ways. One anti-tumor effect is the stifling of the formation of new blood vessels to support the tumors, angiogenesis. As they mention, the selectivity of cannabis is remarkable in that healthy nerve cells and other supportive brain cells are not damaged, just the cancerous cells.
Unfortunately, the stifling of research in the USA and around the planet caused by tragically flawed drug schedules and restrictions, the treatment of brain cancer with medical cannabis is still in its infancy, with key open questions about just how to administer this new medicine. Probably smoking a joint will not turn out to be the optimal medical administration (although it just might, and without doubt would provide beneficial palliative relief from cancer pain and discomfort).
Research in 2014 indicated that a combination of THC and CBD greatly enhanced the anti-tumor effects of radiation. The Medical Daily followed up on this cancer treatment with cannabinoids, interviewing one of the principals:
We think that the cannabinoids are hitting a number of cell signaling pathways, which primes them to the effects of irradiation. Pre-treatment with the cannabinoids seems to interfere with the ability of the tumour cell to repair the DNA-damaging effects of irradiation.
Being a decorated veteran, presumably the Arizona senator could make use of VA medical care to help fight the brain cancer. Idiotically, however, it may be illegal for his doctors to inform him of this powerful medical possibility. VA physicians are prohibited from discussing possible medical benefits of cannabis with their patients.
Even if John McCain became aware of the brain cancer-fighting properties of marijuana, he might refrain in disdain; when asked about marijuana in 1999, McCain’s views were restrictive.
I can’t support the legalization of marijuana. Scientific evidence indicates that the moment that it enters your body, one, it does damage, and second, it can become addictive. It is a gateway drug.
Medical marijuana could quite possibly save John McCain’s life. Sadly, the possibility that he will be aware of that fact and use cannabis is close to zero. In any case, we wish him the best.