Cancer Killer for All
Causes of cancer are well known by now: Genes determine risk factors, but lifestyle choices, especially decisions about food and drink, typically are the deciding factors.
The choices which lead to good health are not a mystery either: Eat more fruits and vegetables; consume less red meat and highly processed foods; and refrain from drinking large quantities of alcohol.
If you don’t make smart decisions about the kinds of foods and drinks you consume, warn the health experts, you’re asking for trouble.
For example, people who drink alcohol regularly increase their risk of contracting cancer with each additional drink they take, according to scientists. In the United States, as more young adults adopt a habit of consuming large quantities of alcohol, more of them are dying of cancer of the liver and cirrhosis, an irreversible scarring of the liver. Between 2008 and 2016, deaths due to liver cancer among young adults rose by 3.0 percent each year, say researchers from the University of Michigan.
But the treatment options for people who fall ill with cancer aren’t as clear as they should be these days.
On the one hand, the conventional treatments, radiation therapy and chemotherapy, are losing favor. They not only fail to help patients rid their bodies of cancer in many cases. They often do more harm than good for patients, who end up with permanent damage to all parts of their bodies after receiving treatment for the cancerous parts.
In fact, growing numbers of doctors, who now admit that drugs used in conventional cancer treatments too frequently are both ineffective and harmful, are shunning the toxic chemicals altogether.
On the other hand, a new approach to fighting cancer, called immunotherapy, shows promise for its use of specialized cells, known as T-cells, to find and kill cancer cells in the body of a patient. However, at this point, the new therapy is accessible only to a small number of cancer patients who can afford to pay its high price. Will it ever be a viable option for a large number of sick people across the globe who could benefit from it?
While old approaches to fighting a killer disease lose favor and new options show promise, a disease killer, one of nature’s most resilient plants, is obscured from the view of most people suffering from cancer around the world.
But the cannabis plant is capturing more attention every day. It very well could hold the basic building blocks of the most effective treatments for cancer yet.
Of the plant’s constituent parts, one class of compounds, known as cannabinoids, is quickly earning a reputation for its powerful medicinal applications. In particular, two cannabinoids—tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and cannabidiol, or CBD—are helping people who have serious illnesses, from epilepsy to cancer, take control of their health issues.
For example, THC and CBD form a lethal combination when they are applied directly to the surface of a cancerous tumor, according to pioneers of a new class of medicine derived from the cannabis plant. These people, who offer all-natural alternatives to conventional cancer treatments, recommend treatment regimens based on cannabis medicine in equal parts of THC and CBD.
Can it be true that medicine derived from the cannabis plant, which more commonly is known as marijuana, a drug with psychotropic properties, is a cancer killer?
Indeed, it is true that the cannabis plant and the human body have an affinity for each other.
Of the complex systems which comprise the human body, one system, called the endocannabinoid system, contains a network of receptors which are designed to receive cannabinoids from various sources, including the cannabis plant. Because of these receptors, cannabinoids such as THC and CBD can enter the human body and perform important restorative and healing functions.
The special connection between the cannabis plant and the human body means that, in stark contrast to toxic chemicals used in conventional cancer treatments, THC and CBD can perform their functions effectively without causing damage in the process.
If this special connection also means that THC and CBD can serve as basic building blocks for powerful medicines in the fight against cancer, then the treatment options for cancer patients should be much clearer these days.
The problem is not only that THC and CBD still must undergo extensive research and testing by the scientific community before they can gain approval from the government and, then, acceptance by the medical community. The problem is also that THC and CBD, two increasingly valuable components of the cannabis plant, still are no different from marijuana to many people.
To officials at the highest levels of government in the United States, as in nations across the globe, marijuana still is no different from illicit drugs such as cocaine and heroin.
Only when governmental officials remove the legal prohibitions now attached to marijuana will the massive amounts of money necessary for the extensive research and testing activities become available.
Until then, the scientific community won’t be able to confirm what pioneer medicine developers already know: Medicine based on THC and CBD helps people who have cancer ease their pain and rid their bodies of illness.
Meanwhile, governments around the world will keep strict limits on access to THC and CBD.
In the end, a plant long known for its healing powers and ability to grow just about anywhere will continue to be relegated to the margins of society in nations where most sick people have little hope of paying the high prices of available treatment options.
The cannabis plant could be a cancer killer for all. But it will help only a few.