Researchers at Southern Illinois University (SIU) may be on the way to determining how cannabis can help cure ovarian cancer, reported the Daily Egyptian, the student-run news organization for the SIU community.
Conducted by the Cannabis Science Center, the research was led by Dr. Dale “Buck” Buchanan, a researcher and professor of physiology at SIU, whose effort is directed mainly toward prevention of the disease.
“The vast majority of ovarian cancer research is focused toward extending what we call ‘progression-free survival,'” he said. “So it seems misguided to me that the focus of the research is on this incremental increase in life, […] so we’re really interested in prevention.”
What Is Ovarian Cancer?
Sadly, ovarian cancer remains the most common cause of cancer death from gynecologic tumors in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Buchanan explained that as a result of the process of ovulation, scar tissue that develops after the egg erupts through the surface of the ovary can go awry, resulting in the development of cancerous tissue.
Do Omega-3 Acids Help With Cancer?
His research proved that Omega-three acids created when flaxseed was introduced into a diet, can prevent the development of ovarian cancer and also minimize its severity. By reducing inflammation and allowing the healing of tissue, Omega-three acids compete with the naturally produced inflammatory proteins within the human body.
“The consequence of this is that it has a 70% reduction in the severity of cancer and a 30% reduction in the incidence, and all we did was introduce flax into their diet,” Buchanan said. “But we know nothing about how it works, so that’s our work.”
What Is The Role Of The Endocannabinoid System?
While examining the effects of introducing flax into the diet, the researchers took a closer look at the system of protein receptors throughout the body that react to internally produced and external cannabinoids, also known as the endocannabinoid system.
According to Didas Roy, a graduate student assisting in the research, the endocannabinoid system has, although still unclear, a role in the production of ovarian cancer.
“So in the endocannabinoid system, there are cannabinoids produced inside our bodies, and they’re binding to specific receptors, one and two,” Roy said. “So two is not that much expressed in the ovary, but receptor one is there in high abundance, and it seems like the expression of those receptors increases in cancer.”
Roy’s focus is currently directed toward a protein called TGF-ß, which is present both in the ovaries and the broader endocannabinoid system.
“We know TGF-ß is also implicated in cancer, so we are trying to see how the both of them are related to each other, who is controlling whom and how they’re contributing to ovarian cancer,” Roy said. “TGF-ß is a family of many, many receptors and ligands, so I’m trying to look at all of them.”
Marijuana & Cancer
Meanwhile, there is a growing body of evidence by scientists proving that cannabis can either slow the growth of or cause death in certain types of cancer cells.
Earlier this year, Cannabotech (CNTC.TA) reported that in experiments conducted on a cell model, the fungus extract eliminated 100% of pancreatic cancer cells relatively selectively and without damaging normal cells. Cannabotech is involved in the development of a botanical drug based on an extract of the Cyathus striatus fungus and a cannabinoid extract from the cannabis plant.
The same Israeli biotech company is behind another cell model study, which showed that its “Integrative-Colon” products killed over 90% of colon cancer cells. The Integrative-Colon products are based on a combination of several cannabinoids from the cannabis plant and various mushroom extracts.
A study conducted by Hadassah Medical Center physicians last year provided a ray of hope to those with breast cancer. The research revealed a sixfold improvement in killing breast cancer cells when using specific Cannabotech’s medical cannabis products in combination with standard oncology treatments and drug protocols, such as chemotherapy, biological and hormonal, over the existing treatment.
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