For all the pros and cons of marijuana, scientists may now have found an indisputable benefit – marijuana may be a potent agent against prostate cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS) there are more than 192,000 new cases of prostate cancer diagnosed in the United States each year and of those more than 27,000 men will die of the disease.
But, research published in the British Journal of Cancer (August 2009) says that scientists have found that chemicals in marijuana (or cannabis) can stop prostate cancer cells from growing (as they have found in their labs).
Smoking Marijuana is Not the Answer
Although the scientists’ tests were performed on mice, they say their results would be similar in humans – albeit after several more years of testing to more precisely figure out how to use the marijuana to treat human cancer. However, smoking marijuana, they say, is not the way to prevent prostate cancer.
The scientists suggest that marijuana works on prostate cancer by blocking a receptor that sits at the surface of most tumor cells. This prevents the tumor cells from dividing. If the scientists can find specific drugs that can be synthesized from marijuana they may be able to use them to treat prostate cancer. They hope the drugs might also be used against brain and breast
According to the American Cancer Society prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in American men (lung cancer is first). Prostate cancer accounts for about 10 percent of cancer-related deaths in men.
Prostrate Cancer Data
The prostate is a walnut-sized gland located in front of the rectum and underneath the urinary bladder. It is found only in men. Several types of cells are found in the prostate, but over 99 percent of prostate cancers develop from the gland cells. Some prostate cancers can grow and spread quickly, but most of them grow slowly. The ACS says that autopsy studies show that many older men (and even some younger men) who died of other diseases also had prostate cancer that never affected them during their lives. In these studies, 70 to 90 percent of the men had cancer in their prostate by age 80, but in many cases neither they nor their doctors even knew they had it.
Advances in prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment have made the disease readily treatable and outcomes quite successful. For example, the ACS says that the five-year survival rate for men diagnosed with prostate cancer is nearly100 percent, the 10-year survival rate is 91 percent, and the 15-year relative survival rate is 76 percent. The ACS says “modern methods of detection and treatment mean that many prostate cancers are now found earlier and can be treated more effectively.”