Marijuana Disrupts Cancer Pathway of Cigarettes
Chemicals in marijuana can block the activity of a cancer-causing enzyme commonly found in cigarette smokers.
Cigarette smokers aren’t just saving their lungs when they switch to marijuana. They could be preventing cancer as well, according to new research out of Japan.
Published last month in the national science journal J-STAGE, the study found that chemicals in marijuana blocked activity of an enzyme linked with cancer – specifically cancer caused by cigarette use. CBD, CBDV and THC were all found to be effective, although CBD was the strongest.
The researchers conclude that these marijuana compounds could be useful in treating cancer:
Although normally present at very low levels in the liver and lungs, the CYP1A1 enzyme is produced in large quantities following exposure to tobacco smoke. The enzyme has also been shown to facilitate the release of various cancer-causing agents within the body, including benzo[a]pyrene.
“Accordingly, CBD and its related compounds, which are potent inhibitors of CYP1A1 activity, would be useful as a lead compound in anticancer chemotherapy.”
While the Japanese team was one of the first to show an effect of marijuana on CPY1A1 activity, they weren’t the first to suggest the use of marijuana in treating cancer.
Compounds like THC and CBD are starting to take on a major role in cancer research, as many studies have identified their ability to kill cancer cells directly.
One of these studies was published in 2008 by researchers at Harvard University, who tested THC on rats with lung cancer. After 28 days of treatment, they observed a 50% reduction in tumor growth and a 60% reduction in cancerous lesions.
But despite a large body of evidence from animal and cell culture studies, human trials have still yet to be conducted.
The study was funded by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan and by the ‘Academic Frontier’ Project for Private Universities from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan.