World class cancer researcher with aggressive prostate cancer treats metastasis with cannabis.
Prostate cancer is global health disaster. It affects 1.1 Million men (globally) and will kill 300,000 of them. It has the second highest death rate of all cancers, making it a tenacious and dangerous cancer.
Even with widespread screenings and increasing public attention, it’s still a virulent killer. Only melanoma (skin cancer) affects more men in the U.S. Yet the very male-ness of the disease might provide a clue to its abatement.
New research has shown potential for cannabinoids to suppress and destroy prostate cancer cells thanks to their ability to limit male sex hormones.
These hormones are called androgens and are literally what make men into men (the word androgen comes from the Latin roots “andro” meaning man and “gen” meaning “thing that produces.”) Testosterone is the most widely known androgen, but there are heaps of others.
In addition to providing men with manliness, androgens are also the fuel that cause prostate cancer cells to grow. That’s why some of the most studied remedies for prostate cancer involve slowing down or stopping the efficacy of these androgens. Some treatments have gone so far as to employ chemical castration as a way to pull the plug on the cancer’s power source.
That’s where cannabis comes in.
Although it’s not often touted by pro-cannabis herbalists, the connection between cannabis and decreased testosterone has been known since the 1970s. More specifically, scientists have shown that cannabis affects androgens in ways that include decreased sperm count and lowered levels of many molecules, like acid phosphate, in the male reproductive organs.
In short, cannabis provides a check on runaway male hormones. You know the stereotype of the pacifist stoner made famous by The Big Lebowski? This is the science behind it. Cannabis can literally make you less “manly”, but only a bit, so don’t worry.
When it comes to prostate cancer, however, less manliness is exactly what patients need. When androgens are rendered less effective by cannabis, the cancer’s growth rate slows down. That’s vital because prostate cancer has a habit of metastasizing in the bones, where it can become a death sentence.
So decreasing the male hormones is a good first step toward fighting prostate cancer. But it’s far from the only way that cannabis can lend a hand.
Prostate cancer cells have been found to possess more cannabinoid receptors than similar kinds of cells, making them prime targets for medical cannabis therapy.
Cannabinoid receptors are special molecules that exist on cell membranes that function a lot like the way old time speakeasys worked. If you knew the password, the doorman let you in to enjoy the party. In this case, the only things that cannabinoid receptors let in are cannabinoids—either those that are naturally occurring or those from the outside (AKA medical cannabis).
When cannabinoids encounter this cannabinoid receptors in cancer cells, they’re ushered through the door of cell membrane and proceed directly into the cell’s endoplasmic reticulum, where they go to work. The cannabinoids start an intercellular event called apoptosis or “cell death” in which the cell implodes in on itself.
Amazingly, cannabinoids cause apoptosis only in cancer cells. They have no adverse effects on normal, healthy human cells.
Scientists have discovered that the more cannabinoid receptors that exist on a cancer cell, the more likely the tumor is to increase in size and spread throughout the body. The cannabinoid receptors may therefore be the most effective way to target the cancer.
The keyword here is “may.” While laboratory tests in mice have produced positive results, there is still a long way to go before the therapy can be effectively administered to human beings on a large scale. But that’s not to say some true believers aren’t already conducting their own experiments.
A biochemist in California, who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer with metastatic lesions, took it upon himself to bypass chemotherapy and use only cannabis-based medicine.
The man, Dennis Hill, was no ordinary cancer sufferer. He was a world-class researcher, having graduated from the University of Houston and worked at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas.
Within six months of starting his cannabinoid oil treatment, the cancer had begun to fade away, Hill says. Soon it vanished entirely. Hill’s results may not be replicable by everyone, but the potential is strong. A new way to fight one of the world’s deadliest cancers may be closer than we think.