Let’s put the Cannabis Cancer Cure into some perspective.
If we face the facts, anyone purveying hemp oil or cannabis as a cancer cure is either willfully ignorant of the facts or is delusional about its proven effects. While certain cannabinoids or other chemicals found in the cannabis certainly show promise for potential cancer treatments, thus far the only valid studies have occurred in Petri dishes or grafted animal tumors. And there is one insidious fact left out of the claims proliferating across the Inter Webs.
Cannabis can make some cancers worse.
That’s right, the same chemical components that appear to kill or slow the progression of some cancer cells have also been shown to speed the growth of other cancer cells. There is a matter of dosing, too: some doses help reduce tumors while other doses will actually cause progression. And this is still in a highly controlled lab dish setting. Getting those doses correct through the filter of individual human metabolism could be a disaster, if it even works at all.
Meanwhile, proponents of cannabis as a cure-all medicine are claiming that cannabis oil (or in some cases simply smoking pot) will stop cancer in its tracks through simple, small-dose ingestion. And these claims are often made for all cancers. This would be somewhat unique among medicinal cures, since the hundreds of cancers we know about are essentially separate diseases, with different causes and generally different treatment options. If one medicine worked for all of them it would truly be miraculous. However, that is similar to the notion of a universal vaccine for all viruses — but we know that viruses are all different and will even mutate in ways that last year’s vaccine may not work on this year’s strain. So what makes the hemp oil salespeople certain of their product? The answer is one of two things: either they are, themselves, passionately misinformed (and thus willfully ignorant of the facts, which are readily available), or they are deliberately deceptive (as are most of the people in the “Alternative Medicine” sales force).
The evangelists out there spewing the dogma of cannabinoids have failed to read the actual science, or at least to understand it properly and learn the difference between a lab experiment and a human trial. While there is undeniable potential in cannabis for helping with numerous health issues, and there is even proven palliative value to various substances derived from the plant, the argument that it can simply be ingested to cure cancer falls right in with other “miracle foods” that have been claimed as cancer cures over the years.
Here is a list of some popular foods that have been claimed to cure cancer:
- Pineapple Juice
- Apricot Pits / Seeds
- Carrot Juice
- Red Beets
- Green Tea
- Pomegranate Juice
And that is just the tip of the iceberg. Although iceberg lettuce does not generally make the list, it is a leafy green and, well, leafy greens should be up there, too.
Now, here is the list of actual proof (including any evidence from successful case studies) that has been provided for the claims about any of those foods curing cancer:
There seems to be an imbalance between the claims and the supporting evidence. The reason for this is that the Natural Foods Industry, like the Alternative Medicine Industry, survives largely because it provides no real information about its claims beyond anecdotal stories and hype. And, as anyone with a dictionary can tell you, anecdotes do not equate to evidence.
Now, those are all healthy foods. They could all be part of a balanced, healthy diet. And such a diet will certainly minimize, to some relative extent, the negative effects of medical treatment for any disease, including cancer. A healthy and balanced diet will also help a body be better prepared to begin any treatments. In theory (though sadly, not always in practice), a healthy and balanced diet will help prevent all illnesses by supporting normal bodily functions and keeping the immune system fortified. The reality is, however, that our bodies are more complex than that. They may be kept properly oiled and serviced and full of premium fuel, but still break down because of faulty components or simple long-term wear or even outside environmental factors, no matter how well maintained we keep them. Cannabis, though not typically regarded as a food, fits neatly on that same list.
Certain foods may well fight inflammation in the body. Some of them have chemical compounds that definitely discourage the processes that allow cancers to grow. But the amounts that a person can safely and comfortably eat or drink will not be enough for an actual “medicinal” effect. Eat all those foods on the list. Find another list and eat those foods, too. Load up on kale and spinach. Please. Because those foods are so rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber and all sorts of potential micronutrients that we barely understand at all. Eat them and be happy.
But don’t delude yourself into thinking that they prevent or cure cancer, because the data is pretty conclusive: they don’t. Healthy macrobiotic vegans get cancer, too. So do enlightened spiritual leaders. Cancer has no emotion or mission, but if it did, it wouldn’t care one bean what you eat. Staying healthy should be a priority for everyone, which means maintaining moderation and feeding your body what it needs to function its best. For me, that means coffee and steak mixed in with my kale and berries, but I am mindful of excess. Everyone is going to be slightly different with regard to the foods that keep them at their peak. And if you are one of those who has to go through cancer treatment and you are fortunate enough to get into remission, staying healthy should remain your top priority.
So balance that diet, eat for enjoyment and eat for your health, but don’t be swayed by hyperbolic promises from cryptic web sites just because something is “natural” and supposedly “John B.” was cured by it or because acidification and inflammation cause all illnesses and this “natural product” will make you alkaline and whatever the opposite of inflamed is. That stuff isn’t true. What is true is that food is good for you and healthy food is best for you. Eat healthy food.
Also, exercise. You gotta keep the whole machine up and running.
But the cannabis, I’m not going to be judgemental about. At least not insofar as I know plenty of people who like it for many reasons. Well, mostly for one or two reasons, if we’re being completely honest. Just get this straight: while it may have some palliative medicinal uses, and make no mistake that it is still being very seriously studied for a variety of maladies, cannabis still is no cure for cancer.