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Study Reports Marijuana Compounds Destroys Some Cancer Cells

Update Date: Oct 28, 2013 09:33 AM EDT

Even though marijuana is still considered an illegal substance under federal law, individual states throughout the Untied States have slowly legalized the use of medicinal marijuana. Despite the endless debate over whether or not marijuana is a safe product for people to use, public approval for the legalization of marijuana is at an all time high within the nation according to a Gallup Poll. In a recent study, researchers found that marijuana compounds might have the ability to kill certain cancer cells.

For this study, researchers headed by Dr. Wai Liu examined the effects of six different non-psychoactive cannabinoids. These compounds were derived from marijuana but did not provide a high at all for the users. The researchers used the six compounds on leukemic cells. The team observed the cells when the compounds were used alone and when they were used in combination with one another.

The researchers found that the cannabinoids were capable of killing some of the cancer cells. The team reported that the non-psychoactive compounds "resulted in dramatic reduction in cell viability" and "caused a simultaneous arrest at all phases of the cell cycle." The researchers noted in their study's abstract that in order for these compounds to be potentially used as cancer treatment, doctors and researchers would need to "carefully select the most appropriate strategy in order to maximize their efficacy." Each treatment plan would need to be unique to the individual. However, more research still needs to be done regarding the safety of using these cannabinoids to treat cancer.

Leukemia kills around 23,720 people every year. In order to reduce this number, more effective treatment options need to be created. In 2012, researchers from the California Pacific Medical Center located in San Francisco reported that another non-psychoactive compound derived from cannabis, CBD, was capable of stopping the metastasis in some aggressive tumors. The results from both studies found smoking marijuana will not yield the same results.

The study was partly funded by GW Pharmaceuticals. GW Pharmaceuticals currently manufactures a drug derived from marijuana that is used to treat people with multiple sclerosis, which is an inflammatory disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. The study, "Enhancing the Activity of Cannabidiol and Other Cannabinoids In Vitro Through Modifications to Drug Combinations and Treatment Schedules," was published in Anticancer Research

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