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Active chemicals in cannabis may halt prostate cancer

Wednesday August 19th, 2009

Cannabis may hold the key to a future treatment for prostate cancer, researchers believe.

The researchers looked at the effect of active cannabis chemicals, called cannabinoids, on three human prostate cancer cell lines.

When cannabinoids were detected by a cell receptor known as CB2, the cancer cells stopped multiplying. But when the receptors were "switched off", cannabinoids had no effect and the cells continued dividing and growing.

Professor Ines Diaz-Laviada of the University of Alcala, in Madrid, Spain, and colleagues report their findings in the British Journal of Cancer.

They explain that they used three human prostate cancer cell lines - PC-3, DU-a45 and LNCaP. Cannabinoids halted the division and spread of all three lines. The same results were found in tests of both mice and human prostate cancer cells.

Professor Diaz-Laviada said: "Our research shows that there are areas on prostate cancer cells which can recognise and talk to chemicals found in cannabis called cannabinoids.

"These chemicals can stop the division and growth of prostate cancer cells and could become a target for new research into potential drugs to treat prostate cancer."

However, Dr Lesley Walker of Cancer Research UK warned patients not to self-medicate with cannabis.

"This is interesting research which opens a new avenue to explore potential drug targets but it is at a very early stage - it absolutely isn't the case that men might be able to fight prostate cancer by smoking cannabis," she said.

"This research suggest that prostate cancer cells might stop growing if they are treated with chemicals found in cannabis but more work needs to be done to explore the potential of the cannabinoids in treatment."

Last week researchers suggested cannabis might also help to strengthen the bones.

Diaz-Laviada, I. et al. Inhibition of human tumour prostate PC-3 cell growth by cannabinoids R (+)-Methanandamide and JWH-015: Involvement of CB2. The British Journal of Cancer, published online August 19, 2009.

Tags: Cancer | Drug and Alcohol Abuse | Europe | Menís Health | UK News

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