Cannabis oil and cancer

What is cannabis?

You have probably come across many names for cannabis, including marijuana, hemp, pot, grass and hash. Cannabis has been used by people for hundreds of years, both medicinally and recreationally.

The cannabis plant produces a resin that contains various substances. Some of these may have medicinal value. These substances are known as cannabinoids.

Two main cannabinoids have been identified:

  • delta-9-tetrahydrocannabidiol (THC) – it is illegal to use this substance in the UK
  • cannabidiol (CBD).

Cannabis and cancer

There has been a lot of interest in cannabinoids. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabidiol and cannabidiol have been studied to see if they could have any role in the treatment of cancer.

Most of the scientific research has been done in a laboratory. Scientists have found that different cannabinoids can:

  • cause a cell to die
  • stop cells from dividing
  • stop cells from developing new blood vessels.

But they have also found that cannabinoids can:

  • damage important blood vessels
  • in some situations, encourage cancer cells to grow.

Some studies have looked at whether using cannabis may increase the risk of developing cancer. These have produced different results. Some research has shown that using cannabis may protect against cancer. But other studies have shown an increased risk of cancer.

It is still unclear whether using cannabis has any anti-cancer effects. But there is some evidence that the chemicals in cannabis might help with symptoms such as nausea and pain. For example, some drugs that have been developed using the chemicals in cannabis have been effective in treating sickness caused by chemotherapy, or improving a person’s appetite. But these studies have had mixed results when used in clinical trials. Because of the mixed results, the general feeling of experts is that there needs to be more research into the chemicals found in cannabis and their possible benefit.

Cannabis oil

Cannabis, particularly cannabis oil, is a popular topic. Understandably, many people want to try anything that may help treat their own, or a loved one’s, cancer – particularly if things aren’t going well with conventional treatments. Cannabis oil is only one of a number of treatments people might come across.

If you are thinking about using cannabis oil, there are some important things to keep in mind:

  • Buying it online can be risky. One reason for this is because you don’t know what you are getting, for example how pure it is.
  • There are side effects of using cannabis oil. Cannabinoids can increase your heart rate, cause dizziness, hallucinations, paranoia and make you feel ‘stoned’. They may also interact with other drugs.
  • The cannabinoid delta-9-tetrahydrocannabidiol (THC) and products that contain THC are illegal in the UK.

Finding reliable information online

If you are looking for information online you want to be sure that it is accurate and up to date.

Here are some things to think about when you are looking at a website:

  • Is the information regularly updated? You should be able to find the date when the information was last reviewed on each page.
  • Is it clear who has written the information? A good website should tell you about the organisation that has made the pages or written the information.
  • Are there references? The website should list its sources of information, or tell you who to contact to find out.
  • Is the website sponsored by a company? If so, it may mean the information is biased towards that company’s products or services.

You can read more detailed information about cannabis on the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) website and Cancer Research UK’s website.

You can read more about finding quality information on our website.