• New research confirms that cannabinoids can be effective in killing leukaemia cells, particularly in combination with chemotherapy
  • The study also found that cannabinoids are most effective when used after chemo treatment
  • It also confirmed that cannabinoids possess anticancer properties on their own

St. George’s University of London may have just proven that cannabis can be effective in treating certain types of cancer.

Researchers tested whether existing chemotherapy treatments worked effectively alongside the cannabinoids and whether using the drugs in a different order had an effect. What they found may revolutionise the role of medicinal cannabis in British society.

The study, led by Dr. Wai Lu, “confirmed that cannabinoids are effective in killing leukemia cells, particularly when used in combination with chemotherapy treatments.”

Researchers found that “Phytocannabinoids possess anticancer activity when used alone, and a number have also been shown to combine favourably with each other in vitro in leukaemia cells to generate improved activity.”

Dr Wai Liu

However, cannabinoids are not enough on their own to fully fight leukemia cells. They are most effective when after an initial dose of chemotherapy:

“The most efficacious cannabinoid-pairs subsequently synergised further when combined with the chemotherapy agents, and were also able to sensitise leukaemia cells to their cytotoxic effects.”

Researchers also found that cannabinoids are most effective when used after an initial round of chemotherapy, significantly improving overall results against blood cancer cells.

They also discovered that combining cannabinoids with existing chemotherapy treatments has a better result than with just chemotherapy alone, meaning that a similar level of effect could be achieved by using a lower dose of the chemotherapy.

“Researchers found that cannabinoids are most effective when used after an initial round of chemotherapy…”

St. George’s claim that if this were translated to humans, “this lower dose of chemotherapy would mean that the side-effects of chemotherapy could be lessened.”

Dr. Wai Liu said: “We have shown for the first time that the order in which cannabinoids and chemotherapy are used is crucial in determining the overall effectiveness of this treatment.”

Smoking cannabis, however, will not have a similar effect: “These extracts are highly concentrated and purified, so smoking marijuana will not have a similar effect.

“But cannabinoids are a very exciting prospect in oncology, and studies such as ours serve to establish the best ways that they should be used to maximize a therapeutic effect.”

Cannabinoids are the active chemicals in cannabis, known more specifically as phytocannabinoids. When extracted from the plant and purified, they have been shown to possess anticancer properties, especially in certain cancers of the brain.

What could this mean for British medicine? Going off the study’s conclusions, it’s hard to imagine a future without cannabinoids being central to our health system. 4,584 people died from Leukemia in the UK in 2015. If we have the potential to save their lives, is it not our duty as a compassionate society to reclassify cannabis away from Schedule 1 status so more research can be done and more people can be saved?

Let us know your thoughts on the study’s findings in the comments!

References and further Reading

https://www.sgul.ac.uk/news/news-archive/cannabinoids-used-in-sequence-with-chemotherapy-are-a-more-effective-treatment-for-cancer