Cannabinoids are currently used in cancer patients to ease the disease and to treat side effects such as wasting, emesis and pain. In recent years a significant advancement in the research of cancer treatment with cannabinoids came from the discovery of the potential ability for inhibiting and even killing cancer cells. However, clinical use of THC was often limited by their unwanted psychoactive side effects, therefore CBD research as antitumor treatment has substantially increased in recent years.
Since then, CBD has been shown to utilize anti-proliferative and pro apoptotic effects against various cancer types such as: breast, glioma, leukemia/lymphoma, lung and colorectal carcinoma, both in vitro and in vivo.
These studies demonstrated tumorigenic mechanisms of CBD against different tumors by a number of mechanisms and targets such as: TRPV1 receptor activation, CB2 receptors and ROS production, inhibition of plasminogen activator inhibitor (PAI-1), PPAR and others. Mutually, CBD exhibits pro-apoptotic and anti-proliferative actions in different types of tumors and may also exert anti-migratory, invasive, metastatic and possibly anti-angiogenic properties.
This emerging evidence suggests that CBD can be used in future clinical or pre-clinical studies as an add-on or even a stand-alone treatment to inhibit cancer growth and spread.