A British woman in her eighties has managed to shrink her lung cancer using nothing but cannabis oil, according to a new paper in the prestigious journal BMJ Case Reports[i]. Unsurprisingly, the woman’s story has generated a great deal of excitement and debate, and provides much-needed scientific evidence for the potential of cannabis to treat cancer.
Using Cannabis To Treat Lung Cancer
According to the study authors, the octogenarian woman was first diagnosed with lung cancer in June 2018, at which point her tumour measured 41 millimetres across. She was offered a series of surgical treatment options but refused them all, so doctors placed her under “watch and wait” surveillance.
On the recommendation of a family member, the patient began taking cannabis oil two months after her lung cancer diagnosis, but didn’t initially tell her doctors. She continued to report to hospital for follow-up scans every three to six months, leaving doctors flabbergasted as they watched her cancer shrink progressively over the next two-and-a-half years.
By February 2021, the woman’s tumour had decreased in diameter to just ten millimetres, representing a 76 percent reduction in size. It was at this stage that she revealed that she had been using cannabis oil to treat her lung cancer.
The authors are keen to stress that apart from using cannabis, the woman did not change any other elements of her lifestyle, and even continued smoking cigarettes at a rate of one pack a week throughout this period. To put this case into a bit of perspective, patients who refuse conventional treatments for lung cancer typically survive for about seven months, while only 15 percent who undergo treatment live for more than five years.
Amazingly, however, this patient’s lung cancer appears to have been overcome thanks to a cannabis oil containing 19.5 percent THC, 20.05 percent CBD and 23.8 percent THCA. The woman in question says she took 0.5 millilitres of this product two or three times a day throughout this period.
“I was not very interested in traditional cancer treatments as I was worried about the risks of surgery, and I saw my late husband suffer through the side effects of radiotherapy,” she told the study authors. “My relative suggested that I should try ‘cannabidiol (CBD) oil’ to treat my cancer, and I have been taking it regularly ever since. I am ‘over the moon’ with my cancer shrinking, which I believe was caused by the ‘CBD oil’.”
Does This Mean Cannabis Cures Lung Cancer?
Summing up their case study, the researchers state that “although there appears to be a relationship between the intake of ‘CBD oil’ and the observed tumour regression, we are unable to conclusively confirm that the tumour regression is due to the patient taking ‘CBD oil’.” In other words, this report provides some intriguing food for thought, but a single case is insufficient to prove definitively whether or not cannabis can cure lung cancer.
Responding to the study, prominent neuroscientist and drugs expert Professor David Nutt explained that “such case reports are biologically credible given the adaptogenic nature of the endocannabinoid system… [However,] a case report itself is not sufficient to give any form of proof that one thing caused the other – we need trials for that.”
To date, no large-scale human trials have been conducted to investigate the efficacy of cannabis at treating lung cancer, although it’s worth mentioning that this is not the first case study of its kind. In 2019, for instance, a similar study documented the recovery of an 81-year-old man who treated his own lung cancer using cannabis oil. In this case, the patient used a product containing only CBD, and saw his tumour shrink from 2.5 centimetres by 2.5 centimetres to just 1.3 by 0.6 centimetres over the course of 13 months[ii].
Overall, it’s impossible to say whether or not cannabis can be used to treat lung cancer without major clinical trials. If nothing else, though, case studies like these serve to justify more research on this potentially life-saving topic.
[i] Liew KL, Capuano E, Yung BLung cancer patient who had declined conventional cancer treatment: could the self-administration of ‘CBD oil’ be contributing to the observed tumour regression?BMJ Case Reports CP 2021;14:e244195. – https://casereports.bmj.com/content/14/10/e244195
[ii] Sulé-Suso J, Watson NA, van Pittius DG, Jegannathen A. Striking lung cancer response to self-administration of cannabidiol: A case report and literature review. SAGE open medical case reports. 2019 Feb;7:2050313X19832160. – https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2050313X19832160