Pubdate: Thu, 2 Apr 2009
Source: Edmonton Journal (CN AB)
Copyright: 2009 Reuters


Spanish Study Says THC May Pave Way for Cancer-Treating

The active ingredient in marijuana appears to reduce tumour growth,
according to a Spanish study published on Wednesday.

The researchers showed giving THC to mice with cancer decreased tumour
growth and killed cells off in a process called autophagy.

"Our findings support that safe, therapeutically efficacious doses of
THC may be reached in cancer patients," Guillermo Velasco of
Complutense University in Madrid and colleagues reported in the
Journal of Clinical Investigation.

The findings add to mixed evidence about the effects of marijuana on
human health. Studies have suggested the drug can raise a person's
risk of heart attack or stroke and cause cancer.

Other research has shown benefits, such as staving off Alzheimer's,
and many doctors view THC as a valuable way to treat weight loss
associated with AIDS, and nausea and vomiting associated with
chemotherapy in cancer patients.

Velasco and his team's study included an analysis of two tumours from
two people with a highly aggressive brain cancer which showed signs of
autophagy after receiving THC.

The researchers said the findings could pave the way for
cannabinoid-based drugs to treat cancer, although that approach has so
proved unsuccessful when it comes to obesity.

Sanofi-Aventis SA in November terminated further development of its
cannabinoid drug Acomplia, and Pfizer Inc., Merck & Co. and Belgium's
Solvay have also scrapped similar products recently over health fears.

The drugs, which work by blocking the same receptors in the brain that
make people hungry after smoking marijuana, have also been linked to
psychiatric side-effects, such as depression and suicidal thoughts.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake