Melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, is often caused by overexposure to UV rays from the sun or from tanning beds. It usually takes the form of a mole, but can also develop from preexisting moles. While avoiding the sun altogether isn’t really an ideal option to avoiding the disease, a new study shows that cannabis can kill melanoma cancer cells.
The study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology from 2015, found that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) helped decreased the viability of melanoma cancer cells by the way of autophagy dependent apoptosis. In real words, THC helps the body clear out the unhealthy cells.
Here’s what happens.
THC leads to the birth of a fat called sphingolipid ceramide. This fat puts stress on the membrane of the cell and prevents the signaling pathways Akt/mTORC1. This pathway normally prevents cell suicide by preventing autophagy (the clearing out of unhealthy cells), which then leads to more protein production that keeps these bad cells alive.
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With the stress from the fat created by THC, these pathways are prevented, which means cell survival is decreased and the death of melanoma cells is increased.
Researchers also noted that when smaller doses of THC are combined with CBD, these anticancer effects are intensified. It is important to note that these tests were preformed outside of the body in a lab, but the results are still very promising. The study also showed that THC treatment destroyed the cancerous melanocytes (skin cells) but did not destroy the normal healthy cells.
These results further prove that cannabinoids are extremely useful for treating various cancers and melanoma is among them.