Can Cannabis Treat Skin Cancer?

- February 20th, 2019

Can cannabis treat skin cancer? Thanks to a legalization boom across the globe, more companies and researchers think it’s a possibility.

The potential for new research and treatments in treating diseases is expanding thanks to the global adoption of marijuana for medical use.

As more countries open the doors to the use and investigation of cannabis, medical applications of the drug are set to be expanded as the drug has already showed promise.

Currently the promise outpaces any medically confirmed results or applications for cannabis treating skin cancer patients.

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While marijuana and skin cancer have not been effectively paired up for a proper treatment, the cannabis plant may offer more options for patients once more clinical trials and research are confirmed.

While there may be individual cases claiming to credit the drug, cannabis and its derivatives are not being applied for the treatment of skin cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, accounting for over five million cases per year. This category holds many different variations, however the main three types are basal cell carcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas, and melanomas; the rest are considered rare.

Melanomas develop in specific areas like the neck and face and can be more serious than their counterparts. Basal and squamous cancer cells, on the other hand, are developed based on a person’s sun exposure and mostly develop in the head and neck.

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, treatments of non-melanoma skin cancer include: surgery, radiation therapy, photodynamic therapy and drug therapy including the use of topicals.

Cannabis and cancer could be paired up as more research across the globe begins to take place, looking for new medications and formulations, boosted by the early successes of the drug.

While researching is still lacking in the overall medical marijuana space, serious improvements such as GW Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:GWPH) obtaining an approval in the US for its CBD solution treating seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome in toddlers.

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After going through its clinical trials, the company’s “Epidiolex” drug approval from the US Food and Drug Administration signalled how top medical agencies were ready to confirm the medical prowess of cannabis and its derivatives for the benefit of patients.

The National Eczema Association vouched for CBD as an option in the treatment of eczema, a skin disease that affects over 30 million people in the US.

“It has long been observed that cannabinoids possess anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and anti-itch qualities,” The Independent reported.

A study from the the University of Colorado School of Medicine is looking further into the ability of CBD for patients with psoriasis or eczema who have tried using topical steroids or topical immunomodulators.

Robert Dellavalle, professor of dermatology with the University of Colorado, told Inside Science CBD products are growing in popularity but the results are not being collected as properly as it could be.

“I believe it’s a wide-open horizon with tremendous potential that needs to be investigated, but there are a number of regulatory hurdles that need to be overcome and that’s where we are,” he said of his study.

A medical study from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus showed that the anti-inflammatory sensibilities of cannabinoids are the main reason why they may be a potent agent in combating skin diseases.

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As part of its guide for health care practitioners, Tilray (NASDAQ:TLRY) indicated medical cannabis could aid patients with inflammatory skin diseases such as dermatitis, psoriasis and pruritus.

“And while this research is still relatively formative, the results achieved so far clearly indicate its value and the promising potential of cannabis as effective medicine,” Tilray wrote.

Dave Berg, chief technology officer for software company Strainprint told the Investing News Network the lack of sophisticated research has had an impact on the development of novel therapies for patients using cannabis.

“[I]t’s been very difficult for people to study cannabis in a clinical way, but there’s been a ton observational data… There’s no really strong observational data set that allows us to make proper decisions,” Berg said.

In an effort to raise the research options for cannabis, the Canadian federal government announced it would spend C$10 million over five years to the Mental Health Commission in order to assess the impact of cannabis use on the mental health of Canadians.

The government also promised C$10 million given to the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction for research purposes.

Skin treatment, either cosmetic or medical has been one of the many sectors revitalized with new cannabis oil products gaining popularity.

These cannabis oil products are developed based on the non psychoactive component of the marijuana plant, cannabidiol (CBD).

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The introduction of a cosmetics with cannabis elements, supported by Canadian licensed producers is another upcoming element for the skin treatment segment of consumers, and while not medical it does offer more options to the uses of cannabis.

The endorsement from consumers for CBD ointments or other topicals for skin care has been documented with multiple product launched in the fractured US cannabis market.

The increased popularity of these products has led to a rise in the type of claims made by these items in the prevention and upkeep of skin conditions.

A study from the Journal of the American Medical Association found CBD products were often were mislabeled online.

Investor takeaway

In order for skin cancer patients to see the potential benefits from treatments with medical cannabis, a lot still has to change in Canada and abroad.

As the medical and recreational sections of the cannabis space continue drifting apart thanks to legalization efforts, the medical space should obtain more time to properly research and investigate the applications of the drug.

The early position CBD has gained in terms of skin maintenance and treatment could lead to further research on its impact with a more serious disease.

The approval for GW Pharmaceuticals and the increased awareness of the medical benefits for cannabis is moving the needle for how much more research will be put to find out how capable the drug will be in the medical space.


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Securities Disclosure: I, Bryan Mc Govern, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Editorial Disclosure: The Investing News Network does not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the information reported in the interviews it conducts. The opinions expressed in these interviews do not reflect the opinions of the Investing News Network and do not constitute investment advice. All readers are encouraged to perform their own due diligence.

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