Did you see Bill Turnbull: Staying Alive on Channel 4? It’s a powerful documentary that follows the TV presenter and journalist currently living with advanced prostate cancer as he goes through chemotherapy, tries diets and complementary therapies, and speaks to others with the disease, including Stephen Fry.
It’s important to remember that it’s illegal to grow or sell cannabis in the UK. It’s also illegal to have any cannabis-based products, unless a doctor has prescribed them for medicinal use. CBD oil is legal, but only if it contains extremely low levels of THC (less than 0.2%). However, there’s little evidence to suggest CBD oil benefits cancer patients and there are still a lot of unanswered questions.
Q. Can cannabis help cure prostate cancer?
But these studies have only looked at prostate cancer cells grown in laboratories or in mice. There’s a long way to go in understanding whether there might be similar effects in patients. Cells can behave very differently in humans, so we need clinical trials in humans to see if cannabinoids could be used to treat prostate cancer. We also don’t yet understand the mechanism by which the cannabinoids prevent prostate cancer cells from growing or dividing either.
At the moment, we don’t know if cannabis can help treat prostate cancer. Some studies have looked at the effect of chemicals in cannabis, called cannabinoids, on prostate cancer cells. There are two main cannabinoids that have been investigated – THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). The studies found that cannabinoids may stop prostate cancer cells from growing and dividing, cause prostate cancer cells to die, and stop prostate cancer cells from invading other tissues and spreading.
Many of you had questions and comments about the show. Here, one of our Specialist Nurses, Sophie, answers some commonly asked questions.
Cannabinoids (CBD) have been widely used in medicines for centuries to control pain, nausea or vomiting, and to stimulate appetite, especially in cancer patients. Both cannabinoids receptor 1(CB1) and cannabinoids receptor 2 (CB2) were highly expressed in cultured prostate cancer cells compared to normal prostate cell lines. CBD inhibits tumor growth in xenograft model.
Clinicians have been challenged to improve the treatment of biochemically recurrent (BCR) prostate cancer in which prostatic specific antigen (PSA) rises without radiological or clinical progression years after localized treatment (radical prostatectomy or radiation therapy) with or without hormonal treatment. Approximately 50-90% of men with high-risk prostate cancer will experience a BCR. Based on the abovementioned preclinical observations of CBD’s effect on prostate cancer and its safety data in two non-cancer populations, a phase I study of CBD in men with biochemically recurrent prostate cancer will be conducted.