Recent studies show that THC may play a powerful role in how we treat prostate cancer in the future. If you are asking yourself, “What can’t cannabis do?” Well, the results are in and THC kills cancer cells by inducing apoptosis in diseased cells.
Disclaimer: if you are battling cancer, this is not your cue to drop your current treatment in place of cannabis. Talk to your medical provider or find an ND that can help you tailor your treatment to include cannabis.
THC and How it Affects the Body
THC is the most commonly known cannabinoid found in marijuana and provides the mind and body with a broad spectrum of psychoactive and immuno-active effects.
Common effects of THC
Some are fun, some make you unproductive, and other times they are lifesavers. Here is a short list of commonly reported effects of THC:
- Coordination and movement altered
- Short-term memory
- Stabilizes mood and emotion
- Balance in biochemistry
- Sleep aid
The Endocannabinoid System
THC works in the body by binding to receptors found in the endocannabinoid system. Many of these receptors are found in the brain and in the tissues outside the central nervous system. So far there have been two receptors that have been identified:
- CB1 – modulates the brain and the reproductive organs
- CB2 – affects immune tissues
Many ailments have been attributed to an endocannabinoid deficiency and supplementation of the system through cannabinoids from marijuana has been found to be an effective treatment of those ailments.
Cancer and THC
In recent studies, cannabinoids – THC & CBD – have been shown to induce apoptosis, or cell suicide, in diseased cells. More notably, causing cell death in cancer cells.
How We Know a Cell is Dying
The biochemical signals that indicate cell death are not well known, but some consider ceramide as an important regulator of cell death.
- Reduction in size of cell
- Condensed chromatin (molecule that packs your DNA in the nucleus)
- Redistribution of plasma
- Changes in the surface of the cell
Prostate Cancer & Treatment with THC
Why does THC help fight prostate cancer, specifically? Although, cannabinoids are mainly produced or received in the brain, recent findings show that they are also produced in the testis. (remember, CB1 receptors modulate the brain and reproductive organ function.)
This finding led researchers to test how powerful of an ally THC can be in the fight against prostate cancer. They studied PC-3 (prostate cancer cells), their growth factors and how they react to THC in comparison to ceramide, a commonly attributed trigger to cell death.
The study tested different doses of THC on prostate cancer cells to see if there was a link between cell death in prostate cancer cells treated with THC. Researchers found THC caused a dramatic drop in the viability of the cells and cell death occurred after 2-3 days. The peak effect was observed at day 6 of treatment with the dosed THC.
Furthermore, the study found that the cell death induced by THC happened as a receptor-independent mechanism. So cannabinoids are now known to regulate cell death and growth independent of any other function in the body – not disrupting the normal function or mechanism of your biochemistry.