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Updated Research on Stopping Cancer Metastasis

Christine Kielhorn PHD
MRI image showing soft tissue malignant tumor in the shoulder

Tumor metastasis is the final, often fatal stage of cancer. New studies show THC and CBD could help stop metastasis.

Metastasis is the process by which cancer cells escape the main part of the tumor and invade neighboring tissues and organs and/or travel to other parts of the body.  Certain types of cancers are more aggressive than others, and are therefore more likely to metastasize. These cancers are very difficult to treat and are fatal to patients. In order for cancer cells to migrate and invade other tissues, they must first escape the main tumor and move into the extracellular matrix (ECM) surrounding the tumor. They can then continue to grow into neighboring tissues, or they can enter the blood stream or the lymphatic system to spread to other parts of the body.

In multiple studies, cannabinoids were found to block angiogenesis by reducing expression of the ligand and its associated receptors in the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) pathway. With the VEGF system down, tumors will be unable to grow new blood vessels to help feed its out-of-control growth. New tumors resulting from metastasis to peripheral tissues, like the lungs, also require angiogenesis to sustain their development and growth.

CBD has been found to inhibit the production of metalloproteinases (MMPs). These proteins play a role in angiogenesis by breaking down components of the ECM to allow new blood vessels to form. They also aid in the migration of cancer cells away from the main tumor. In order for a cancer cell to escape the tumor, it must use MMPs to break down the ECM that surrounds the tumor. This has been shown to be particularly critical for treating glioma tumors, which grow and spread so quickly that they are nearly impossible to remove surgically. CBD was able to reduce the aggressiveness of gliomas by inhibiting their invasion capability in part by inhibiting MMPs.

In addition to MMPs, cell invasiveness is also governed by cell-cell adhesion. Certain kinds of adhesive proteins, like focal adhesion kinases (FAKs), promote metastasis when they are increased in number. These proteins allow the cell to migrate away from the tumor more easily. Cannabinoids have been found to inhibit FAKs in cancer cells, reducing their ability to migrate.

In breast cancer, CBD turned off the Id-1 gene, a pro-metastatic gene that is an aggressiveness marker in breast cancer. As a result, breast cancer cells treated with CBD were less invasive. Inhibiting Id-1 has a chain-reaction effect, in which other genes that promote metastasis are also down-regulated, resulting in an overall reduction in cancer aggressiveness.

Tumor metastasis is the final stage of cancer advancement, and the one that is most often fatal to cancer patients. Laboratory studies have found that cannabinoids like THC and CBD are effective at shutting down the essential processes that allow cancer cells to metastasize. On their own, or in concert with traditional cancer therapies, cannabinoids could be a new frontier in cancer treatment.

Christine Kielhorn
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    Stephen King

    Who did this study, and what are the names of the journal articles?

    January 23, 2019 at 7:21 pm Reply
    • Jennifer Grant

      Hi Stephen – if you look back in the article, you will see text in a different color. These are links to the studies and/or more related information.

      January 26, 2019 at 11:11 pm Reply
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    Careful with your titles if you wouldn’t mind. That’s a bold statement and quite misleading. It MAY inhibit CERTAIN metastasis…lab results are a world away from being effective in the human body.
    Don’t think it’s responsible to make things sound absolute and definitive when at this stage of research.

    February 11, 2019 at 3:59 am Reply
    • Jennifer Grant

      Thanks Josh. Multiple lab studies demonstrate this ability of cannabinoids to block angiogenesis and inhibit focal adhesion kinases to stop out of control growth and migration (i.e. multiple types of cancer). Multiple rodent studies have demonstrated tumor shrinkage and cancer cell death due to the blocking of these mechanisms of angiogenesis. Human Glioma studies have shown cannabinoids can block the action of MMPs, which cancer needs to leave the site and metastasize. I feel confident that the title reflects the state of cannabis and cancer research as it sits today.

      February 11, 2019 at 10:34 am Reply
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    Chris turner

    I have stage four prostate cancer. I’m only 58. Treatment isn’t working. Where do I get cannibas oil

    February 11, 2019 at 6:16 am Reply
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      Jim Brown

      Cannibas oil has helped fight off my prostate cancer but adding to it the NORI protocol has brought my numbers down. Google NORI

      May 19, 2019 at 3:25 pm Reply
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      Lynda thach

      Hi Chris! I’m sorry to hear that but there is hope!! But When looking to purchase CBD they are not all created equal. Some are mix with other byproducts or just not pure. Make sure it’s pure and lab tested. Kannaway is the first company to triple lab test all their products, they are the first to have won the hemp seal of authority, they won a bronze and silver stevi award and have strict guidelines from seed to oil . So if you are looking for the Rolex of CBD , I recommend looking into this company. Here’s the website if you want to learn more about the company or purchase

      June 20, 2019 at 7:43 am Reply
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        Jayne Bolger

        Look at Grace’s London, they do cbd products, great back story to the company, done with the intent to help others. Also they were just featured in Forbes magazine this week.

        Good luck and hope you best this disease.

        July 11, 2019 at 4:05 pm Reply
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      Billy Franklin

      Chris, I hope you’re doing well. Go to a fully legal state. Get a suppository.

      Research rick Simpson oil.

      Good luck sir

      March 1, 2020 at 8:14 pm Reply
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    Kenneth E Wright

    I have metastatic cancer from my kidney to my spine had a large amount of tumor removed from L4 it’s a clear cell carcinoma. Aggressive talking about radiation I know it’s very aggressive cancer and I’m not getting a whole lot good answer on life expectancy

    May 19, 2019 at 6:32 pm Reply
    • Jennifer Grant

      Really sorry to hear this new, Kenneth. This must be a scary time for you and your loved ones. They’re not likely to give you life expectancy because it varies based on a lot of things (overall health, genetics, prior surgeries, treatment, mental attitude, etc). Fight with everything you’ve got. We’re rooting for you!

      May 20, 2019 at 10:40 am Reply
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    Kentavious Taylor

    I don’t have cancer but suffering from Arthritis and other inflamatory ailments. I used Rick Simpson oil which contains both THC and CBD. I had noticeable effects literally the next day!!! After a week I am a total believer in the healing qualities of this stuff!!! Anything that works this well wouldn’t surprise me if it cured cancer.

    June 20, 2019 at 7:26 pm Reply
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    It is proven fact that cannabis kills cancer but big pharm dnt want u to know that !!! RAO is the best ????????

    July 25, 2019 at 5:35 pm Reply
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      what is RAO?

      December 17, 2019 at 8:36 pm Reply
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    Anna desimone

    I am writing on behalf of my brother. He was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer two years ago. Had two surgeries and did chemo on and off for 2 year. Cancer is now in liver and he’s been doing RSO. would you know what strains are best to treat cancer and what to use to help I
    Prove anxiety and depression.

    March 4, 2020 at 7:05 pm Reply

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