Cannabis and Breast Cancer
October 1st marks the beginning of Breast Cancer Awareness month. Statistically, about 1 out of 8 American women will develop breast cancer throughout their lifetime. But because of raised awareness and early detection practices, breast cancer death rates have decreased by 20% in the last four decades.
It is encouraging to know that new research and treatment plants can help those who have breast cancer. Alongside standard treatment plans, many women choose to incorporate cannabis into their daily routines. Let’s take a closer look at how cannabis could offer support for individuals with breast cancer.
Cannabis Deep Dive
The cannabis plant has been around for many centuries. Historians believe that the Vikings and medieval Germans regularly used it to relieve pain during childbirth and for toothaches. In the present day, people use cannabis to help with inflammation, anxiety, sleep, pain, and even skin issues.
So what makes cannabis potentially capable of such diverse benefits? The cannabis plant contains many cannabinoids, but the two most famous and important ones are CBD and THC. Researchers discovered that these two compounds could interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) and provide potential benefits.
What is the ECS?
The ECS is a system that is responsible for keeping all processes running smoothly. As you go through life, your body encounters interferences from the outside world. Weather changes, stress, bacteria, and viruses can all bring about additional stress. ECS’s main job is to keep all processes running smoothly as you deal with the outside world.
The ECS operates by sending messages through the extensive network of receptors placed throughout the body. The ECS uses the body’s endocannabinoids as little messengers between the receptors and the brain.
There is no way to replenish your endocannabinoid supply through outside sources. However, the cannabinoids in cannabis are very similar to endocannabinoids, so supplying your body with extra cannabinoids can make the ECS work better.
There are many ways in which cannabis can be used to provide potential support for breast cancer. Take a look at some below!
Nausea and Vomiting
Many patients find that cannabis helps alleviate nausea and vomiting side effects of chemotherapy. The gastrointestinal tract contains endocannabinoid receptors. Cannabis could interact with these receptors and produce an anti-vomiting and anti-nausea effect.
Cannabis can also interact with serotonin receptors and potentially ensure favorable serotonin and dopamine levels, further alleviating nausea.
One of the most common symptoms of breast cancer is neuropathic pain. This pain can be a result of nerve damage due to the progression of cancer. Lack of pain management can negatively affect a person’s overall mood and mental strength.
Studies show that cannabis could help manage pain in patients. One specific study showed that cannabis use resulted in 70% of cancer patients reporting reduced pain symptoms.
Cannabis could also be an attractive option for those looking to avoid heavy opioid use. In 2016 one specific study showed that cannabis use to treat cancer pain helped lower opioid use by 64%.
Support for Cancer Treatments
Some recent studies suggest that cannabis could help slow the growth of and/or cause certain cancer cells’ death. And some animal studies even showed that cannabis use could slow the spread of certain forms of cancer.
Many breast cancer patients struggle with decreased appetite and nausea. It is essential to get proper nutrients and vitamins during treatment, so consuming an adequate amount of food is vital. Certain types of cannabis could help maintain a healthy appetite. Cannabis, especially when it is smoked, increases the amounts of two key hunger-regulating hormones – ghrelin and leptin.
Additionally, the body’s own endocannabinoids are responsible for regulating hunger. So supplying the body with additional cannabinoids could help support a healthy appetite.
Anxiety and Mood Management
Last but not least, cannabis is many people’s go-to for helping with anxiety and mood management. Dealing with cancer is a taxing and strenuous process. It is no wonder anxiety and stress are increased during this time.
Cannabis can interact with the 5-HT1A receptors in the brain and promote relaxation by maintaining proper serotonin levels. Additionally, cannabis could help promote better sleep, which is an essential regenerative aspect of healing.
If you are looking for a mood booster, cannabis has been found to help maintain a healthy hypothalamus size. Studies found that people with depression usually had an atrophied hypothalamus, so supporting your brain structure with cannabis could be useful.
By educating ourselves and bringing awareness to breast cancer, we can bring about early detection and ensure better treatment results. It is helpful to know that there are lifestyle and therapy choices that individuals can utilize in addition to their carefully prescribed treatment plans.