For patients with cancer, the only hope for treatment used to be difficult chemotherapy and radiation. Today, though, scientists are discovering that there may be a new avenue: cannabis. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is one of the foremost authorities on cancer research and education in the United States. Recently, the organization conducted a study into the cancer-mitigating effects of cannabis and, according to the NCI's web page titled "[Cannabis and Cannabinoids](http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/cam/patient/cannabis-pdq# section/_3)":
"Cannabis has been shown to kill cancer cells in the laboratory."
While medical marijuana users have known for many years that medical cannabis can be effective at treating the negative symptoms associated with cancer, the discovery that cannabis has actually been proven to [kill cancer cells](http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/cam/patient/cannabis-pdq/# link/_13) is an exciting revelation for medical marijuana users and the greater medical community world-wide.
According to the NCI data, cannabis has been shown to critically damage or kill cancer cells in cases of liver cancer and additional varieties of the disease. When the effects of medical cannabis on cancer were tested in laboratory rats, the researchers found that an active component of marijuana, delta-9-THC, provided important anti-tumor effects for varieties of lung cancer cells as well as breast cancer cells. In the breast cancer study, researchers found that, while the medical cannabis killed the cancer cells, it did not negatively affect healthy breast cells.
Additionally, when the effects of medical cannabis were studied on metastatic breast cancer, the treatment was shown to lessen the number, size and spread rate of tumors in the body.
Since the legalization of medical marijuana, patients have used cannabis to treat the pain, decreased appetite, and nausea associated with cancer treatment. In addition to discovering that medical cannabis can actually kill cancer cells, the NCI study also reinforced the longstanding knowledge that marijuana can stimulate appetite, relieve pain, reduce inflammation, soothe anxiety, induce sleep and reduce nausea and vomiting in chemotherapy patients.
Although cannabis itself is not currently approved by the FDA to treat cancer or its symptoms, there are two synthetic cannabinoids (dronabinol and nabilone) that are currently approved to treat nausea and vomiting resulting from chemotherapy.
Although further clinical trials are needed to bring the use of cannabis fully into the cancer treatment field, all signs point to the fact that cancer patients will soon be able to access medical marijuana as a way to kill cancer cells and work toward maximum health.